The ongoing ebola outbreak is resurging in Guinea, where the virus has killed about 200 people since it appeared in February, and in neighboring Sierra Leone, said Doctors Without Borders Wednesday.
Health workers appeared to be making progress against the outbreak, but Guinea and Sierra Leone are now reporting fresh cases, some in areas previously unaffected by the disease, said the doctors group.
The organization said it has seen more than 20 new cases of ebola at its treatment centers in Guinea in the past week.
Areas like the capital, Conakry, and the towns of Gueckedou and Macenta, near the border with Liberia, have seen a spike in the number of new patients, it added.
But ebola is also cropping up in previously unaffected towns, such as Telimele, north of the capital, and the coastal town of Boffa.
Between May 29 and June 1, at least 21 people died and 37 new cases of suspected ebola were recorded in Guinea, the World Health Organization said, undermining the government’s claims that the disease was coming under control.
The new figures take to 328 the number of cases linked to the disease in the West African country, of which 193 have been confirmed by laboratory tests. In total, 208 deaths have been linked to ebola, making the outbreak one of the deadliest in recent years, according to World Health.
Bart Janssens, director of operations for the doctors group, said the geographical spread of the disease in Guinea is a problem.
“It clearly indicates that the epidemic is not at all under control as we might have hoped one or two weeks ago, when we really saw cases continually going down over time,” Janssens said.
He said people should seek treatment as soon as they show symptoms or if they believe they have been exposed.
The ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, and the virus can be transmitted even after that person dies. Health workers said families moving bodies for funerals have been a factor in the spread of the disease.
It can take up to three weeks for symptoms, including fever, vomiting, body aches and uncontrollable bleeding, to appear. There is no cure.
Janssens said some people do recover with medical care.
“People are afraid to come out. It’s difficult to identify all cases and also to track the contact of these cases,” he said.
“These people travel to new sites either because they do not know they are sick or because they want to get away from places where they can be identified.”
The ongoing outbreak in West Africa has had a fatality rate of about 70 percent. Those who have survived, as well as relatives of those who have died, reported being stigmatized by their communities.