Dogs EATING corpses of Ebola victims in Liberia... and now the deadly virus has reached Senegal
- Officials hurriedly buried bodies in middle of night so locals would not know
- Residents in Johnsonville Township had refused permission for graves
- Experts say dogs will not get sick but could transmit to humans by biting
- Comes as Ebola spreads to Senegal after infected man arrives from Guinea
- WHO says Ebola cases are rising at highest rate since outbreak began
Dogs are digging up the corpses of Ebola victims buried in shallow graves in Liberia and eating them in the street, villagers have claimed.
Furious residents of Johnsonville Township, outside capital Monrovia, raised the alarm after packs of wild dogs were spotted digging up corpses from a specially-designated 'Ebola graveyard', dragging them into the open and feeding on their flesh.
It is the latest development in the epidemic, which was today confirmed to have reached Senegal.
The grisly scenes in Liberia came three weeks after government health officials - desperate to stem the country's rising infection rate - hurriedly buried the bodies despite a heated standoff with villagers who refused to give their permission to use the land.
But rather than resolve the dispute, Liberia's Ministry of Health burial team dug the graves at night to avoid further confrontation, making the infected bodies easy targets for scavengers, villagers say.
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Dead in the street: People gather around a man suspected of dying from Ebola in Monrovia
Now fears are mounting that the dogs - which cannot grow sick from the strain of Ebola running rampant through West Africa but can carry it - will be able to pass it on to humans through licking or biting.
'We are very disappointed in the Health Ministry, especially the government that took an oath to defend and protect us,' Alfred Wiah told The New Dawn. 'To see them act in such manner is unacceptable and we’ll never allow the government come to bury any longer.'
He added: 'They will be resisted by us because I think the government has failed to protect us. Why bring Ebola bodies and not bury them well?'
While the dogs are unlikely to grow sick from the virus, there is a strong chance they could still pass it on to humans, Dr. Stephen Korsman of the University of Cape Town’s medical virology division told News 24.
Death toll rising: A Liberian health worker sprays disinfectant outside a house before entering and removing the body of a man that they believe died from the Ebola virus in Monrovia
High death rate: So far Ebola has killed more than 1,500 of the 3,000 people it has sickened in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, according to an official count
Grisly task: Two nurses in protective suits enter a Liberian village to search for locals who have fallen ill
Infected: They escort an infected villager away, watched by a crowd of concerned locals
'[The dogs'] infections appear to be asymptomatic,' he said. 'This means that dogs won’t get sick, but they still could carry a potential risk through licking or biting.'
The news comes as it was revealed the killer disease has reached Senegal, making it the fifth West African country to be affected by the outbreak.
The country's Ministry of Health said a man infected with Ebola traveled to Senegal, bringing the disease to that country for the first time in an outbreak that has hit four other West African nations and killed more than 1,500 people.
Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck told reporters that the infected person, a university student from Guinea, sought treatment at a hospital in Senegal's capital, Dakar, on Tuesday but gave no indication he might have Ebola.
The next day, an epidemiological surveillance team in Guinea alerted Senegalese authorities that they had lost track of a person who had had contact with sick people. The team said that the person disappeared three weeks ago and may have come to Senegal.
Spreading: Senegal's Health Minister, Awa Marie Coll Seck (pictured), revealed today that Ebola had reached Senegalese capital Dakar after a university student from Guinea checked into hospital there on Tuesday
Fears: The news comes as scientists claimed the Ebola virus disease is rapidly and continually mutating, making it harder to diagnose and treat
The student was tracked to the hospital in Dakar that same day and was immediately quarantined, Seck said.
A test has confirmed that he has Ebola, and the World Health Organization has been alerted.
HOW THE EBOLA VIRUS SPREADS
Ebola emerged in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in Sudan and near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There are several strains which vary in how dangerous they are to humans, but death rates have reached as high as 90 per cent.
In the current outbreak it is just over 50 per cent. The virus is introduced into humans through direct contact with the blood, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals including fruit bats, which are eaten as a delicacy, and possibly now dogs.
The virus then spreads between humans through direct contact with blood, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people.
Symptoms include fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
People are infectious as long as their blood and bodily fluids contain the virus and the incubation period can range between two and 21 days.
Although the disease has no cure, modern medical treatment and quick isolation help hugely to bring the death toll down.
Source: World Health Organisation
And in a further blow to the fight against the outbreak, scientists today claimed the Ebola virus disease is rapidly and continually mutating, making it harder to diagnose and treat.
A study of the initial patients diagnosed with the virus in Sierra Leone revealed almost 400 genetic modifications.
And it could be detrimental not only to current treatments, but also to future vaccines that are in the works.
The team of researchers, led by the Broad Institute in Massachusetts and Harvard University, analysed more than 99 Ebola virus genomes.
Also today, the World Health Organization revealed that the past week has seen the highest increase of Ebola cases since the outbreak in West Africa began.
The U.N. health agency warned yesterday that the outbreak in West Africa is accelerating and could eventually infect as many as 20,000 people.
So far it has killed more than 1,500 of the 3,000 people it has sickened in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, according to an official count.
The U.N. health agency said yesterday it assumes that in many hard-hit areas, the actual number of cases may be two to four times higher than is currently reported.
In a detailed report on the outbreak published today, the WHO said more than 500 cases were recorded over the past week, by far the worst toll of any week so far.
The vast majority of the cases were in Liberia, but the agency said it was also the highest number of cases in one week for Guinea and Sierra Leone. Nigeria has also recorded a small number of cases.
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