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Ebola Surges in Sierra Leone, State of Emergency Declared

Jun 12, 2014 04:12 PM EDT
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Sierra Leone has declared a state of emergency in the Kailahun district after discovering several more cases of Ebola. Currently the South African nation has seen 46 confirmed cases and 28 deaths from the fatal viral infection.

According to Doctors Without Borders, which is internationally recognized as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa has supposedly already infected 18 people in Koindu, part of Sierra Leon's Kailahun district. Six of these cases had already resulted in death as of May 29.

This has prompted MSF to dispatch a team of investigative specialists to set up a treatment center in Koindu - where most of the country's Ebola outbreaks are thought to have originated from. Koindu sits closest to the Guinean boarder and it's from here that officials suspect the first imported cases of the virus appeared.

South Africa's Ebola problem first raised concerns back in March, when a rapidly spreading Ebola outbreak in remote Guinea villages found its way into the country's heavily populated seaside city of Conakry. With this, the virus went from being worrisome-but-manageable to an "unprecedented" and difficult-to-contain epidemic.

"We are facing an epidemic of a magnitude never before seen in terms of the distribution of cases in the country," Mariano Lugli, coordinator of MSF's project in Conakry, said back in March.

As of May, the Guinaean Ministry of health confirmed 178 cases with the help of specialists from MSF and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labs.

The virus has since spread to Guinea's bordering countries, like Sierra Leone.

Last week the Sierra Leone Health Ministry released a Q&A for citizens, which they hope will dissuade superstition and foolish beliefs concerning the virus - including the idea that Ebola is a curse, or that the virus can be purged from the body with excessive consumption of alcohol.

"Ebola is a disease that scares people and that is perceived as mysterious, but people can overcome it," MSF Emergency Coordinator Marie-Christine Ferir said in a statement. "Earning people's trust is essential in efforts to fight the epidemic."

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