FREETOWN, March 22 An outbreak of haemorrhagic
fever that has killed 29 people in Guinea may have spread across
the border into neighbouring Sierra Leone, according to a World
Health Organisation (WHO) document and a senior Sierra Leone
Guinean health officials have registered a total of 49 cases
of infection in three southeastern towns and the capital Conakry
since the outbreak was first reported on Feb. 9.
While the exact type of the fever, which is characterised by
bleeding, has yet to be identified, a senior official in Guinea
said on Friday that preliminary tests had narrowed down the
possibilities to Ebola and Marburg Haemorrhagic Fever.
WHO officials, however, suspect Lassa Fever may be behind
the outbreak, cases of which have now also been reported in a
border region in Sierra Leone, according to minutes of a March
18 teleconference seen by Reuters.
Sierra Leone's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo said
authorities were investigating the case of a 14-year-old, who
died in the town of Buedu in the eastern Kailahun District.
The boy had travelled to Guinea to attend the funeral of one
of the outbreak's earlier victims.
Kargbo said a medical team had been sent to Buedu to test
those who came into contact with the boy before his death.
Ebola and Marburg are lethal diseases caused by similar
viruses that are among the most virulent pathogens known to
infect humans, the WHO says on its website.
Humans contract Lassa Fever, which is endemic in West
Africa, from contact with food or household items contaminated
with rodent faeces. The disease can then be transmitted from
person to person.
(Reporting by Umaru Fofana; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by