Death toll rises to 11 as Liberia’s mysterious disease spreads

Kateh said that 20 cases of the strange illness occurred since on Tuesday when it started ravaging in state capital, Greenville.

Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer Francis Kateh

“Nine people were hospitalised following the spread of the disease in the country."

“However, three are in critical conditions right now, three in stable condition and three others had been discharged."

Local sources said all the dead victims suffered severe stomach pain before succumbing to death.

Health authorities, in a move to stop the spread of the disease, isolated all those who had contact with the dead.

There have been speculations across Liberia that the symptoms of the illness were similar to that of Ebola, which ravaged the country in 2014.

Kateh countered the claims, saying the initial tests performed on the blood specimens of the deceased at the Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research had disproved that the victims died from the Ebola virus.

“Even though they showed similar symptoms like vomiting and stomach pain, among others."

“More samples of blood specimens of the victims had been sent to the Centre for Disease Control in the U.S. for testing."

“In the meantime, an investigation is underway to ascertain the origin of the disease in Greenville,’’ he said.

The Liberian government said it has already put in place the necessary mechanisms and measures to contain any outbreak of infectious diseases in the country.

The report said that about 4,500 people died in Liberia alone in 2014 when the Ebola outbreak ravaged some countries in West Africa.

NAN reports that WHO said on Friday that the nine people who died and eight others got sick after attending the funeral of a religious leader.

A WHO spokeswoman said initial results reported by Liberian authorities had ruled out Ebola as the cause, but could not say whether samples were being sent to other laboratories for confirmation.

On Wednesday, the WHO said Liberian health authorities were taking rapid precautionary steps after eight people died of a mystery illness, 10 months after the end of a two-year Ebola virus outbreak.

“It seems all of these people were attending the funeral of a religious leader,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a briefing in Geneva.

“They have taken samples from the dead bodies, and all the samples came back negative for Ebola. They will be looking of course for other hemorrhagic fevers and for bacteria, if there was any common exposure to water contamination or food contamination,” she said.

She said that eight people remain under observation in hospital in Sinoe county, a four-hour drive southeast of the capital Monrovia, with symptoms including fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

Chaib said that hospital staff are wearing protective equipment and contacts of the sick are being traced in the community to see if they have fallen ill.

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