“We are facing an epidemic of a magnitude never before seen in terms of the distribution of cases in the country: Gueckedou, Macenta Kissidougou, Nzerekore, and now Conakry.”

Mariano LugliCoordinator of MSF's project in Conakry
March 31, 2014

With eight confirmed cases of Ebola reported in the capital Conakry, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is facing an unprecedented epidemic of cases now scattered in several locations in Guinea.

“We are facing an epidemic of a magnitude never before seen in terms of the distribution of cases in the country: Gueckedou, Macenta Kissidougou, Nzerekore, and now Conakry,” says Mariano Lugli, coordinator of MSF's project in Conakry.

Strengthening MSF teams

MSF continues to strengthen its teams. By the end of the week, there will be around 60 international field workers who have experience in working on hemorrhagic fever divided between Conakry and the southeast of the country.

Among the field workers are doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, water and sanitation experts as well as anthropologists. In addition, more than 40 tonnes of equipment have been flown into the country to try to curb the spread of the disease.

“MSF has intervened in almost all reported Ebola outbreaks in recent years, but they were much more geographically contained and involved more remote locations. This geographical spread is worrisome because it will greatly complicate the tasks of the organizations working to control the epidemic,” says Lugli.

No vaccine or treatment

In Conakry, MSF has strengthened the support for the isolation of patients located at the referral hospital of Donka, in collaboration with the Guinean health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO). Other patients in other health facilities are still hospitalised in non-optimal conditions and isolation must be reinforced in the coming days.

The teams are also looking for a suitable place to set up another facility to further support local health authorities. At the same time, MSF has already begun to identify people who may have been in contact with existing patients. The search for potential new patients, and if necessary, their isolation is the only way to break the chain of transmission of the virus. There is currently no vaccine against or treatment for Ebola.

 

Most aggressive and deadly form of Ebola

In the last two weeks in the southeast of the country, in the towns of Guekedou and Macenta, MSF rapidly set up teams and established two structures for the isolation of patients. With the help of the community, raising awareness and identifying new cases is ongoing. In this region, the isolation of patients who have been identified will help control the spread of the virus.

“In Guinea, it is the Zaire strain of Ebola virus. This is the most aggressive and deadly. It kills more than 9 out of 10 patients,” says Michel Van Herp, an MSF epidemiologist currently in Guekedou.

“To stop the outbreak, it is important to trace the chain of transmission. All contacts of patients likely to have been contaminated should be monitored and isolated at the first sign of infection.”

To date, Guinean health authorities have recorded 122 suspected patients and 78 deaths. Other cases, suspected or diagnosed, were found in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“It is important that the Guinean authorities and the WHO help medical facilities put in place all necessary hygiene measures,” says Van Herp.

MSF in Guinea

MSF has worked in Guinea since 2001 on projects supporting the treatment of HIV / AIDS and malaria.

 

Find out more about MSF's work in Guinea

Learn more about Ebola

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