29 April 2017

Liberia to Send Blood Samples Abroad in Latest Disease Outbreak

Photo: Liberian Observer
Liberian Health Minister Bernice Dahn

Monrovia — Liberia does not have the capacity to diagnose the latest disease outbreak which has already killed at least 11 persons in Sinoe County.

Nine infected persons are undergoing treatment. There are fears that the number may rise.

The country's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh told reporters Friday that the Health Ministry is considering sending blood samples broad for further testing.

According to Dr. Kateh, initial tests conducted to determine Ebola proved negative. However, the current laboratory is not equipped to determine food poison, which many suspect to be the cause of the sudden outbreak.

Those infected with the "strange" disease showed symptoms of severe stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headaches

Doctors suspect that the disease can be spread through body contacts.

Residents of the county, according to reports, have begun taking precautionary measures introduced during the Ebola outbreak.

Sinoe County is one of few counties which were not affected by the Ebola Virus Disease that struck the country in 2014.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it had sent rapid response teams to the area to assist Liberian health officials with technical and logistical support.

The teams were investigating reports linking the disease to attendance at the funeral of a religious leader in Sinoe County.

"The investigation teams will try to find if this could be in relation to the consumption of same food and drinks and if there is an environmental exposure to some chemicals or bacteria," the WHO said in a statement.

According to reports, seven of the deaths were linked to the death of an 11-year-old who died on Sunday, April 23, 2017.

She died after showing symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and mental confusion.

She was immediately taken to F.J. Grante Hospital where she reportedly died within one hour after she was admitted into the emergency room.

She reportedly attended the funeral ceremony of a religious leader on Saturday, April 23, in Greenville.

The religious leader is said to have died at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia, Liberia's capital. He was diagnosed of high blood pressure.

On Monday, April 24, another patient from Down Town Community who also attended the funeral of the religious leader presented symptoms of head ache, skin itching and body pain. He was admitted the same night at the F.J. Grant Hospital died by 2:00 A.M. Monday morning.

Another lady from Red Hill community who also attended the same funeral presented symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. She died upon arrival at the Grant Hospital.

A local journalist in the county described the situation as "tragic" and said it has instilled fears in many of the inhabitants of the county.

Rep. Jefferson Kanmoh (APD- District #3 Sinoe County) also described the outbreak as "very disturbing and a source for serious concern".

"There is panic in the county right now for many reasons."

"Many recall our recent past where Ebola killed a good number of our citizens and with the latest where there are many deaths in succession shows serious reason for panic and concern.

"We want to encourage authorities at the Health Ministry to work fast to give answers to our people, while we appeal to our people to keep calm and await results of the test.

"All that we are hearing right now are speculations; so we ask people to maintain their peace," he said.

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