CAPE TOWN, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Participants in the 16th International Congress on Infectious Diseases on Thursday called for joint efforts by Western African governments to contain the spread of Ebola disease.
There was a common understanding at the conference that Western African governments need to work together to ensure that the recent outbreak of the virus in the region be contained.
Medical virology expert Robert Swanepoel, a professor at the University of Pretoria, told the conference that Western African governments should work to hastily identify those infected and ensure they are isolated to avoid the further spread of the disease.
Figures released at the conference show that at least 80 people have died from the highly contagious virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The outbreak is believed to have originated from Guinea.
Ebola disease cannot be spread through casual contact but is rather transmitted from person to person through direct contact with blood or infected tissues from an infected person. Health workers and family members of infected persons in the outbreak area would therefore be at risk.
The Ebola virus has been confirmed as the cause of an outbreak of haemorrhagic fever in Guinea. This is the first recorded outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Guinea, where Lassa fever is commonly reported.
The conference kicked off in Cape Town on Wednesday, marking the first time in 22 years the conference is being held in Africa.
The four-day conference, organized by the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID), encompassed all of the fields in infectious diseases with particular attention being paid to the major infectious causes of death in Africa and elsewhere, which include AIDS, malaria, TB, pneumonia and enteric infections including Ebola, typhoid fever and diarrhea.
In all of these fields there are exciting interventions underway in Africa, the results of which will be presented in Cape Town, according to ISID.
In addition, there are major areas of neglected tropical diseases that will be discussed and a particular focus will be on the largely uncounted burden of nosocomial infections in developing countries.