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Guinea fears Ebola virus has spread

CONAKRY, Guinea — An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, which is believed to have killed at least 59 people in Guinea, may already have spread to neighboring Liberia, health officials said Monday.

Health workers in Guinea are trying to contain the spread of the disease which causes severe internal bleeding. In neighboring Liberia, health officials said they are investigating five deaths after a group of people crossed the border from Guinea in search of medical treatment.

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‘‘The team is already investigating the situation, tracing contacts, collecting blood samples, and sensitizing local health authorities on the disease,’’ Liberian Health Minister Walter Gwenigale said.

The Ebola virus leads to severe hemorrhagic fever in its victims and has no vaccine or specific treatment. The new cases mark the first time in 20 years that an outbreak of the virus has been reported in West Africa.

Already health workers fear the outbreak could overtax Liberia and Guinea, both deeply impoverished countries with severely limited medical facilities. Officials in Sierra Leone are also on high alert and have sent medical teams to the border with Guinea, though no cases have emerged so far.

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