Senegal’s first Ebola case raises fear about virus’ spread

More than 3,000 suspected and confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in West Africa, and more than 1,500 people have died of the virus, according to figures released by the World Health Organization. A separate outbreak has killed at least 13 people in a remote region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa.

Senegal’s patient is a university student from neighboring Guinea, where the outbreak began in March, Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck said in Dakar, the Senegalese capital.

Guinea notified Senegal on Wednesday that a young man who had been under surveillance there disappeared three weeks ago and may have traveled to Senegal, she said.

The student was located at a hospital in Dakar, where he had presented himself the previous day without disclosing that he had had close contact with Ebola victims in his home country.

Tests confirmed that the man was infected with the virus, and he remains under quarantine in “satisfactory” condition, the minister said. Coll Seck appealed for calm and strict adherence to hygiene measures.

Senegal’s announcement underscored the acceleration of the epidemic. Last week saw the highest increase yet in Ebola cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the countries most affected by the outbreak, the World Health Organization said Friday.

In Nigeria, where the outbreak was believed largely contained, health officials this week confirmed the first Ebola death outside the commercial center of Lagos.

WHO has said that more than 20,000 people could become infected.

Hoping to prevent the spread of the disease, Senegal last week closed its land border with Guinea and barred flights to and from the three worst-affected countries.

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.