In Summary
  • The fruit bat, thought to be the host of the highly contagious Ebola virus, is a delicacy in the region straddling Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and experts suspect bush meat caught by huntsmen may be the source of the outbreak.
  • Pending results from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where the samples were sent, the patients were isolated and receiving appropriate medication.

Liberia said on Thursday it was dealing with the first case of suspected Ebola to have originated within its own borders, unconnected to the epidemic raging in neighbouring Guinea, as Mali also detected three suspected victims.

If confirmed, the case in Liberia's eastern town of Tapeta would mark a worrying development in the fight against Ebola, as cases so far have been attributed to people returning with the infection from Guinea, where 84 people have died.

"We have a case in Tapeta where a hunter who has not had any contact with anyone coming from Guinea got sick," chief medical officer Bernice Dahn told AFP.

"He was rushed to the hospital and died 30 minutes later. He never had any interaction with someone suspected to be a carrier of the virus and he has never gone to Guinea. This was an a isolated case."

The fruit bat, thought to be the host of the highly contagious Ebola virus, is a delicacy in the region straddling Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and experts suspect bush meat caught by huntsmen may be the source of the outbreak.

Tapeta, a small town in the eastern county of Nimba, is 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in southern Guinea, at least a five-hour drive and much further from the border than other suspected cases.

"The huntsman has 500 traps in the forest. He felt sick in the forest and was rushed to the hospital," Dahn told AFP, adding that seven new patients brought the total suspected Ebola cases in Liberia to 14.

The tropical virus leads to haemorrhagic fever, which causes muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea and in severe cases, organ failure and unstoppable bleeding.

- 'I am scared' -

Seven people have died, Dahn said, since Liberia reported its first cases of haemorrhagic fever last month, raising the previous toll by three.

Of the deaths, two are laboratory-confirmed Ebola cases -- a woman who died in hospital in the northern county of Lofa, and her sister who visited her.

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