7 April 2014

Liberia: Ebola Manhunt - Biker Likely Carrying Virus On the Run

Photo: allAfrica.com
Patients being treated at a Liberia hospital. (file photo)

Monrovia — The motorcyclist who drove the last victim of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia is reported to be ailing and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare wants the public help in finding him before he spread it on to others.

Health Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale made the disclosure last Friday shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) presented a consignment of protective gears to Liberia to aid health workers in the fight against the killer virus.

"The motorcycle driver who drove that sick woman to firestone and the woman has already died, that motorcycle driver is sick," the minister said.

"They called us last night, we sent people to go and find him but when we got there they said that the mother had taken him somewhere. Now we are looking for him because whoever gets in contact with that young man including the mother now, is in trouble. So you have to help us to get the word around that whoever has that young man somewhere, please turn him over to us so we can take care of him."

,The yet -to-be-identified deceased woman contracted the virus from Foyah Lofa County. The latest woman to die from the Ebola virus at Firestone contracted Ebola while caring for her sister who died of Ebola in Foya, Lofa County. The woman had been at Firestone under observation in isolation. Prior to that, she left the Foya area late night on March 29 and travelled via taxi to Monrovia to see her husband. Five other people were in the taxi with her, including the driver. The woman then took a motorcycle to a nearby clinic, where she was seen and released.

Additionally, authorities are said to be on the lookout for at least 40 persons who may or may not have crossed path with the deceased woman. Until her death, the woman and her family were being quarantined in their home until they could be moved to an appropriate facility. Although the Health Ministry has been monitoring those who came in contact with the woman, including the taxi driver, the failure of authorities to find the motorcyclist could hamper attempts by health authorities to stop the deadly virus in its tracks.

At least seven persons have died from the deadly virus since it crossed into Liberia from neighboring Guinea. Overall, the death toll from the outbreak in coastal West Africa has risen to 86, with dozens more ailing. According to the WHO, the deaths are among the 137 cases reported by the organization, which says the outbreak has "rapidly evolved" since originating in the forests of southeastern Guinea. The city of Guekedou, near the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia, has seen the majority of the deaths. Five people are believed to have died in Guinea's capital, Conakry, according to WHO. Two of the victims had traveled to the region.

Sierra Leone is investigating at least two deaths from the disease the aid organization Doctors Without Borders has called an unprecedented outbreak because previous cases have been limited to a small area.

Mali became the latest country to draw interests after the government reported on its Facebook page last week that biological samples tied to three suspected Ebola cases within its borders are being sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for analysis. Three people in Mali suspected of having the disease are being treated in an isolated unit, where their health is improving.

Ebola is one of the world's deadliest viruses, causing a hemorrhagic fever that kills up to 90% of those infected. It spreads in the blood and shuts down the immune system, causing high fever, headache and muscle pain, often accompanied by bleeding. The virus is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), where one of the first outbreaks occurred in 1976.

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