Senegal has recorded its first case of Ebola in an outbreak that continues to spread through West Africa, Dakar's health ministry said on Friday. The disease has now killed more than 1,500 people this year.
Health Minister Awa Marie Coll-Seck told reporters on Friday that the infected person was a young man of Guinean citizenship who had recently travelled to Senegal.
Coll-Seck said the man had been immediately quarantined at a Dakar hospital, where he was in a "satisfactory condition." The minister said "plans were being reinforced to prevent the disease from spreading."
The patient is a university student in Conakry who had disappeared three weeks ago from the Guinean capital. Authorities are trying to piece together where he went, and all the people he encountered.
Fifth West African country
The outbreak began late last year in Guinea, which shares a border with Senegal. Three other West African countries have confirmed cases of Ebola: Liberia, Sierre Leone and Nigeria. At least 3,000 people have now been infected. Roughly half of those people have died as a result.
The disease, though in a different form, has also been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At least 70 people have died in the country after showing symptoms of hemorrhagic fever. Two of those cases have been confirmed as Ebola, albeit a different, less deadly strain of the virus.
Ebola could infect 20,000 before contained
Friday's news could further raise fears of the pathogen's spread in the region. The UN's health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO), on Friday said that the past week has seen the highest increase in confirmed cases of Ebola since the outbreak began.
On Thursday, the WHO warned that the epidemic could affect more than 20,000 people before it is contained - which the organization hopes will happen in the next six to nine months.
glb/msh (AFP, dpa)