Originally written for SCG Innovation Institute.
The presence of Ebola has been confirmed in Liberia after Health Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale explained that the samples sent to France for testing contained the haemorrhagic fever virus. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has been notified and the confirmation has only increased the concern that the current Ebola outbreak in Guinea has spread beyond its borders.
The number of suspected and confirmed Ebola cases remains at 103 with a death toll of 66 since March 24, when the virus was first confirmed to be present in the West Africa region of Guinea. Sierra Leone has also reported suspected cases of Ebola.
Ebola haemorrhagic fever first came to the attention of health officials in 1976. The severe, often lethal disease affects humans and primates and is caused by the ebola virus; an RNA virus and member of the Filoviridae family.
The fatality rate for Ebola virus disease, or Ebola haemorrhagic fever as it is also known, can be as high as 90% in humans.
Ebola is transmitted through humans and animals, specifically primates and fruit bats. Infected animals can transmit the virus to humans, where it is then passed on to others via human to human transmission.
The situation is being closely monitored by health organisations and officials across the globe, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a travel alert with the recommendation that visitors do not travel to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.
WHO has also urged local communities to avoid coming into contact with fruit bats, believed to be the natural host of the virus, and advises those living within the affected communities to avoid eating the undercooked or bloody meat of any animal that is capable of hosting the virus.