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Senegal shuts land border with Guinea to prevent Ebola spreading


* Senegal closes border in southern region of Kolda, Kedougou

* 70 people suspected to have died from disease in Guinea

* Deadliest outbreak of Ebola in 7 years

* Guinean authorities say to tighten hygiene precautions in hospitals

By Daniel Flynn and Saliou Samb

DAKAR/CONAKRY, March 29 (Reuters) - Senegal closed its land border with Guinea on Saturday to try to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus, which Guinean authorities say is suspected of killing 70 people in the deadliest outbreak in seven years.

The discovery of 11 people suspected to have died of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia in recent days has stirred concern that one of the most lethal infectious diseases known to man could spread in a poor corner of West Africa, where health systems are ill-equipped to cope.

Senegal's Interior Ministry said in a statement it had closed the land border with Guinea in the southern region of Kolda and the southeastern region of Kedougou.

"The governors of these regions have taken all the necessary steps to implement this decision," said the communique.

Senegalese authorities said on Friday they would introduce sanitary checks on flights between Dakar and the Guinean capital Conakry, where eight cases of Ebola have been confirmed, including one death.

West African foreign ministers said at a conference in Ivory Coast this week that the outbreak was a "threat to regional security".

The vast majority of the cases in Guinea have been detected in the country's remote southeast, near the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia. It took authorities nearly six weeks to identify it as Ebola, allowing the virus to spread.

The arrival of the disease this week in the capital Conakry, where hundreds of thousands of people live tightly packed in rambling shanties, marked a sharp increase in the population at risk compared with the sparsely populated villages of the forested interior.

Sakoba Keita, head of the prevention division of Guinea's Health Ministry, said there was no need for panic in Conakry as the spread of Ebola could be tackled by simple sanitary steps such as regular hand washing and quarantine of victims.

"There have been delays in applying certain measures in our health system," Keita told a news conference, noting six medical staff were among those killed by the disease. "From today, strict hygiene measures will be observed in our hospitals."

There is no vaccine and no known cure for the disease, which initially induces fever, headaches, muscle pain and weakness. In its more acute phase, Ebola causes vomiting, diarrhoea and external bleeding that carry the virus outside victims' bodies and threaten to infect anyone who touches them.

Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people since it was first recorded in 1976 in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo, but this is the first fatal outbreak in West Africa. This is believed to be the most deadly Ebola epidemic since 187 people died in Luebo, in Congo's Kasai Orientale province, in 2007.

Guinea is deploying a mobile laboratory to the southern region of Gueckedou to speed up identification of the disease and test samples from Sierra Leone and Liberia. (Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Join the discussion

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mcjane923 March 29 2014 at 3:18 PM

I really feel for those having this dreadful disease, specially for the six medical staff who probably were not aware that their patients had Ebola.

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DJ March 30 2014 at 1:36 AM

Guinea population 10,057,975. Sierra Leone 6 million. Liberia 3 million. Guinean capital Conakry 1,548,500. 90% fatality rate. If they don't get a handle on this things could get very bad very quickly

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Gina March 30 2014 at 2:55 AM

This is such a horrible disease that I hope someone can figure out a cure or a prevention in our life time. I feel the same about cancer and other diseases as well but with Ebola, you have a very short time from being infected until you die a horrible, painful, bloody, death! It's a nightmare disease for sure!

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1 reply
PAUL Gina March 30 2014 at 7:33 AM

Gina, you're cute. Love your teddy bear, and I love your 'Beauty Queen' statement to the judges. The problem is that the people responsible for creating the Ebola virus are evil beyond description. They're the people who tell your President when to **** and **** like that. There's a lot of idiots in these threads that think the **** we're in is the fault of this or that President when, in fact, the President is a stooge just like you and I to the REAL powers that govern the outcome of human interactions. Oh, the wisdom of the fool.

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monkutare1 March 30 2014 at 6:19 AM

What would it take to make the USA shut down our southern border?

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1 reply
RosaJoe9 monkutare1 March 30 2014 at 7:11 AM

A revolution!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
JAKE RosaJoe9 March 30 2014 at 8:22 AM

Or at least an election!

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fishhead80 March 30 2014 at 7:14 AM

What animals ! JUST WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS (screaming)

Flag Reply +2 rate up
decorsbie March 30 2014 at 7:28 AM

I sure hope that we close down any travel to the USA until they get this ebola under control. This is not race just makes sense!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
r1656 March 30 2014 at 8:05 AM

Read "hot spot" You won't put it down

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2 replies
ksdillon r1656 March 30 2014 at 8:32 AM

I believe you mean "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston.

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Dana and Landen r1656 March 30 2014 at 3:29 PM

Hot Zone :)

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Doc March 30 2014 at 8:05 AM

So far, I've never heard of anybody surviving Ebola and in the outbreaks of the past it has always distroyed entire villages. I'd worry, What with the shape of medical care in America and the indifference of drug companies, you could be looking at "the stand" in real life it it were to get loose in the states.

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1 reply
kklinvt Doc March 30 2014 at 8:37 AM

There is an approximately 30 percent survival rate with Ebola.

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smoknjoe March 30 2014 at 8:09 AM

For all you conspiracy theorists out there, Ebola is NOT man made. It came from Africa and was STUDIED by western nations:

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1 reply
Dana and Landen smoknjoe March 30 2014 at 3:29 PM

Yep! People need to read The Hot Zone. Then try to make educated comments here.

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pasquamar March 30 2014 at 8:49 AM

I believe... If we don't control our population, Mother Nature will!

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1 reply
Teeny Weenie pasquamar March 30 2014 at 8:58 AM

Then why don't you kill yourself moron?

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