An Ebola outbreak in Guinea is responsible for the deaths of 59 people and is now "raging" at an epidemic rate, the west African nation's health ministry said over the weekend.
"The Ebola fever epidemic raging in southern Guinea, including the prefectures of Gueckedou and Macenta, since Feb. 9 has left at least 59 dead out of 80 cases identified by our services on the ground," Sakoba Keita, the ministry's chief disease prevention officer, told Agence France-Presse.
"We are overwhelmed in the field, we are fighting against this epidemic with all the means we have at out disposal with the help of our partners but it is difficult. But we will get there," he said.
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Health officials were initially stumped over the cause of the illnesses that were first reported last month, but tests confirmed it was Ebola over the weekend, CNN reported
Symptoms of the Ebola hemorrhagic virus include fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and loss of appetite, and typically present anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted from person to person through blood or bodily secretions.
"In Guinea, a country with a weak medical infrastructure, an outbreak like this can be devastating," Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, a UNICEF representative in Guinea, said in a statement this week.
According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola virus
kills between 25 and 90 percent of people who become ill.
To combat the Ebola outbreak, the Guinean Health ministry has reportedly established isolation units for infected people and ordered some 33 tons of medicine and medical equipment.
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