Voice of America (Washington, DC)

29 August 2014

Senegal Confirms First Ebola Case

Photo: Daily Vox
More than 2,000 people have been infected with Ebola so far and over a thousand people have already died.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has now spread to Senegal, which announced its first case Friday.

Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck told reporters that the infected person is a Guinean university student who sought treatment at a hospital in Senegal's capital, Dakar, this week.

She said the young man admitted to having contact with Ebola patients in Guinea, and that he subsequently tested positive for the virus.

Senegal is the fifth country linked to the regional Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 1,500 people this year, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The World Health Organization warned Friday that the six-month-old outbreak is escalating, with 40 percent of the total number of cases occurring in the past 21 days.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that the outbreak could spread beyond West Africa if it is not stopped soon.

"If we don't stop it here, we're going to be dealing with it for years around the world. But we can still stop it," he said.

Frieden made his comments Thursday in Liberia, the country with the highest number of cases and deaths from the virus.

On Thursday, the WHO launched a $490 million campaign to fight the epidemic. The WHO says the total number of reported cases has topped 3,000, but added the actual number could be two to four times higher.

The U.N. agency says Ebola could eventually infect 20,000 people across West Africa before the outbreak is brought under control.

Nigeria's Health Ministry says 15 cases have been reported there and six people have died.

The WHO says 80 people are being monitored for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as they await lab results. That situation is believed to have no connection with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

A shortage of protective equipment is one of the factors contributing to the epidemic. A Senegalese epidemiologist was flown to Germany earlier this week after contracting the virus from an Ebola testing lab in Sierra Leone. After the infection, WHO said it shut down the lab in Kailahun and withdrew its staff.

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