The first cases of Ebola to spread to Senegal have been traced to a 21-year old student from Guinea visiting family in the capital city of Dakar. The student had come to a local hospital seeking treatment, for fever, vomiting and diarrhea but failed to mention that he had the disease until authorities were notified by the Guinean government that they had “lost track of a person it had been monitoring for the past three weeks.” Although he was initially treated for malaria, the student was immediately quarantined once the hospital realized he actually had Ebola. In the meantime, he is believed to have contaminated relatives and others who came in contact with him.
The event has now triggered emergency warnings throughout the country and made containing Ebola in Senegal a top priority of the World Health Organization, which is seeking to supply it with hygiene kits as well as protective equipment for healthcare workers. To date, approximately 240 healthcare have come down with Ebola while treating patients in the West African nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria, with more than half of them dying according to the UN agency. A separate outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which killed 13 people earlier this month is not related to the epidemic raging through these countries.
“These needs will be met with the fastest possible speed,” WHO stated.
Senegal is considered a major tourist and transport hub. While the country had already closed its land border with Guinea, as well as forbidden all air and ocean travel from Liberia and Sierra Leone, the fact that the infected student was able to enter the country could now make bringing the Ebola outbreak under control that much more difficult. Meanwhile, doctors have reported that the student seems to be responding well to treatment and that his fever has disappeared.