Guinea announces two new cases of Ebola in previously unaffected area

DAKAR/CONAKRY Fri May 23, 2014 5:00pm EDT

DAKAR/CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinean health officials announced two new confirmed cases of Ebola on Friday in an area previously untouched by the virus, which has killed more than 100 people in West Africa but which Guinea's government has said is now under control.

West Africa's first deadly outbreak of Ebola spread from a remote corner of the country to the capital, Conakry, and into neighboring Liberia, causing panic across a region struggling with weak healthcare systems and porous borders.

"We recorded two new cases in Telimele. They are the first in this locality, which is in fact a new outbreak," said Mamadou Rafi Diallo, a spokesperson for Guinea's health ministry, adding that the two were being treated in isolation.

Ebola - a hemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent - causes symptoms ranging from flu-like pains to internal and external bleeding. It is transmitted between humans by touching victims or through bodily fluids.

The new cases may have been due to the two coming into contact with the body of another victim at a funeral service. Such contact has been responsible for a number of transmissions since the outbreak was first identified in March.

"We're talking about a woman who was buried there without care," Diallo said. Authorities were not considering the dead woman as a confirmed case as she had not been tested for the disease.

The government said it was also closely monitoring 41 people who had come into contact with the two confirmed sufferers in Telimele, about 250 km (160 miles) from the capital Conakry.

"The government is working with partners to put in place a treatment center, to identify everyone who has made contact with Ebola victims as well as raise awareness and distribute hygiene kits," the government said in a statement on Friday.

Ebola has infected around 170 people elsewhere in Guinea and in Liberia and killed more than 100, although the death toll is likely higher as the government is only counting cases that have been confirmed through laboratory testing.

No new cases of Ebola have been detected since April 26 in Conakry, where an outbreak could pose the biggest threat of an epidemic due to the city's role as an international travel hub.

(Writing by Misha Hussain for the Thomson Reuters Foundation; Editing by Joe Bavier and Hugh Lawson)

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