Officials in Sierra Leone's capital are trying to find a woman who left a hospital with the help of her family after testing positive for the deadly Ebola virus. The 32-year-old woman, whom radio stations in Freetown named as Saudatu Koroma, was being tested for the virus in an isolation ward, then was "forcefully removed" by her family, Reuters reports. That's led to a hunt for Koroma to keep her from spreading the virus to others.
The deadliest outbreak of the virus yet
News of the hunt comes just days after Sierra Leone officials announced that the head doctor in the effort to combat Ebola in the country contracted the virus. Dr. Sheik Umar Khan treated more than 100 Ebola patients, and was diagnosed with the virus this week. Earlier, three health care workers at the same facility died with suspected infections, prompting a strike to get the hospital ward relocated.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 660 people in the region since February, making it the deadliest outbreak of the virus yet. 45 new cases and 28 deaths from the virus were tallied between July 18th and the 20th, according to the World Health Organization, with the highest mortality rate occurring in Sierra Leone. Overall, Guinea has been hit the hardest, with 415 cases of the virus and 314 recorded deaths. Not helping in this latest bout is the outbreak area's population density; past outbreaks have been easier to contain when they've occurred in remote areas.
Ebola is a deadly virus that was first identified in 1976, and has up to a 90 percent mortality rate among those who are infected, though has been about 60 percent in this latest outbreak. The virus is spread between humans through body fluids, and there's no cure or vaccine available. Those who are infected can have fever, muscle pain, and a headache before the virus causes vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding, eventually leading to death.