23 Mar 2014

Ebola virus strikes Guinea

7:19 pm on 23 March 2014

A highly contagious fever raging through southern Guinea has been identified by French scientists as the killer Ebola virus.

Health workers during a 2005 Ebola outbreak in Angola.

Health workers during a 2005 Ebola outbreak in Angola. Photo: AFP

Scores of cases have been recorded since the outbreak began early last month, the BBC reports.

It is believed to be first time the haemorrhagic illness has been recorded in Guinea. Recent years have seen outbreaks in Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

There is no known cure or vaccine for the highly contagious virus, whose symptoms include internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Outbreaks of Ebola occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests, the World Health Organization says.

"The Ebola fever epidemic raging in southern Guinea since 9 February has left at least 59 dead out of 80 cases identified by our services on the ground," Guinean health ministry official Sakoba Keita told AFP.

"We are overwhelmed in the field, we are fighting against this epidemic with all the means we have at our disposal with the help of our partners but it is difficult."

The virus is spread by close personal contact with people who are infected and kills between 25 percent and 90 percent of victims.