An angry crowd attacked an Ebola treatment center in Guinea on Friday, accusing its staff of bringing the deadly disease to the town, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said, as Mali identified its first suspected cases.
More than 90 people have already died in Guinea and Liberia in what MSF, or Doctors Without Borders in English, has warned could turn into an unprecedented epidemic in an impoverished region with poor health services.
The outbreak in Guinea is the first time the disease — epidemics of which occur regularly in Central Africa — has appeared in the country. Infected patients initially went undiagnosed for several weeks before tests confirmed Ebola.
News of the outbreak has sent shockwaves through communities with little knowledge of the disease or how it is transmitted, and the suspected cases in Mali have added to fears that it is spreading in West Africa.
MSF spokesman Sam Taylor said that the attackers in Macenta, about 425km southeast of the Guinean capital, Conakry, had accused staff of bringing the disease to the town.
In a statement broadcast on state television late on Thursday, Mali’s government announced that three people had been placed in quarantine and samples sent off to Atlanta, Georgia, for tests.
The latest outbreak originated in Guinea two months ago.
Sierra Leone has since reported suspected cases, while Liberia’s government has confirmed the disease’s presence there.
The Gambia placed two people in quarantine, although the Gambian Ministry of Health has since said the cases tested negative for Ebola.
The Guinean Ministry of Health said two more suspected victims of the virus had died, bringing its death count to 86.
Liberia also reported three new deaths among its suspected 14 cases, raising its death toll to seven.