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Guinea declares Ebola outbreak after three deaths

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Health authorities in Guinea announced they are battling an Ebola outbreak on Sunday after at least three people died from the deadly disease.

Officials with the west African nation's Ministry of Health said in a Facebook post they have counted at least seven suspected cases of the virus among participants of a nurse's funeral on Feb. 1 in Nzerekore Prefecture, near the northern Liberia border.

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Two women and a man among those cases have since died, the ministry said, adding their deaths have been confirmed Ebola-related after their samples were shipped to be tested and returned positive, Guinea's Health Ministry said.

The suspected cases were exhibiting symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding, it said.

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"In response to this situation and in accordance with the international health regulations, the Guinean government declares an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Nzerekore Prefecture," it said.

A crisis meeting of the Ministry of Health was held on Sunday and has called for the isolation of all suspected cases and for cases to be investigated by an emergency central government mission, among several other health measures to be implemented.

"The government reassures the people that all measures are being taken to stem this epidemic as soon as possible" the ministry said, calling on those in the affected area to follow hygiene and prevention measures and for anyone exhibiting symptoms to contact health authorities.

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Guinea is believed to have been ground zero of the West Africa Ebola outbreak of 2014 to 2016 that saw 28,652 people sickened with the virus, including 11,325 people who died from the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's a huge concern to see the resurgence of Ebola in Guinea, a country which has already suffered so much from the disease," Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization regional director for Africa, said in a statement. "However, banking on the expertise and experience built during the previous outbreak, health teams in Guinea are on the move to quickly trace the path of the virus and curb further infections."

WHO said staff are already in Guinea where they will assist local health authorities to set up testing, contract tracing and treatment facilities.

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Samples of the confirmed cases have also been sent to the InstitutPasteur in Senegal to be genome sequenced to identify the virus' strain, it said.

"With the epicenter of the current outbreak in a border area, WHO is already working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone to beef up community surveillance of cases in their border districts as well as strengthening their capacity to test for cases and conduct surveillance in health facilities," the WHO said.

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Officials in Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Senegal and other at-risk nations have been contacted to be on alert, according to the U.N. healthy body.

The declaration was made about a week after the Democratic Republic of Congo announced it had detected its first case of Ebola months following the end of its most recent outbreak.

At least two people have since died in the DRC from Ebola.

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