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Sierra Leone confirms first case of Ebola as epidemic spreads

An electron micrograph image of an Ebola virus virion obtained March 24, 2014 from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia/AFP

An electron micrograph image of an Ebola virus virion obtained March 24, 2014 from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia/AFP

FREETOWN, May 26- Sierra Leone on Monday confirmed its first death from Ebola, with several more suspected to have succumbed to the deadly virus that swept across neighbouring Guinea earlier this year.

“I can categorically confirm that the Ebola sickness has materialised,” said health ministry official Amara Jambai.

Jambai initially said four cases of Ebola fever had been identified, but later clarified that while four people had died, only one person had so far been confirmed to have had the virus.

Jambai said 11 people with acute diarrhoea and vomiting had been admitted to the Koindu Community Health Centre in a region bordering southern Guinea.

Four people died and five were responding to treatment.

“Of the four deaths only one has been confirmed as dying from Ebola after two independent tests at the Kenema Laboratory Centre. The cause of death of the other three is still being investigated,” he said.

The deadly haemorrhagic fever, which has no cure, erupted in Guinea in January where it claimed 81 lives — according to government figures released three weeks ago — and also spread to Liberia.

Ebola is one of a handful of similar fevers that cause vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, and in severe cases, organ failure and unstoppable internal bleeding.

It can be transmitted by blood and other bodily fluids, as well as the handling of contaminated corpses or infected animals, known to be vectors of the disease.

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The World Health Organisation has described the region’s first Ebola outbreak as one of the most challenging since the virus was first identified in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo

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