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Crowd attacks Ebola treatment center in Guinea

CONAKRY, Guinea — A crowd angry about an Ebola outbreak that has killed 86 people across Guinea attacked a center where victims were being held in isolation, prompting an international aid group to temporarily evacuate its team, officials said Saturday.

The violence took place in the southern town of Macenta, where at least 14 people have died since the outbreak emerged last month in the West African country. The mob at the clinic accused Doctors Without Borders health workers of bringing Ebola to Guinea, where there had never previously been any cases.

Some young people threw rocks at the aid workers, though no one was seriously hurt, said Sam Taylor, a spokesman for Doctors Without Borders.

"We understand very well that people are afraid because it is a new disease here," Taylor said. "But these are not favorable working conditions so we are suspending our activities."

Patients are receiving treatment from Guinean health ministry personnel, Taylor said.

Guinea's government swiftly condemned the attack, saying that Doctors Without Borders and other international aid groups are key to stopping the spread of Ebola.

There is no cure for Ebola, which causes fever and severe bleeding, and up to 90 percent of patients die from the strain of the virus that has been detected in Guinea. Some patients are held for observation, and then transferred to another area if they are confirmed to have Ebola.

Confusion about the process has prompted misinformation in this remote corner of Guinea. Resident Kolie Martin accused doctors of transferring patients to the isolation ward who had not tested positive for Ebola.

At least 86 people have died so far from Ebola in Guinea and two other confirmed deaths have been reported in neighboring Liberia. Authorities in Mali are also investigating three suspected cases of Ebola, and they have sent samples overseas for testing.

Experts say that Ebola is carried by fruit bats living in West Africa, and that it could have been transmitted to a human who ate a bat or another animal that had been bitten by a bat.

Crowd attacks Ebola treatment center in Guinea 04/05/14 [Last modified: Sunday, April 6, 2014 12:08am]
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