CONAKRY, March 22 (Reuters) - Guinea has received confirmation that a mysterious disease that has killed 34 people in the West African country, and may have spread to neighbouring Sierra Leone, is the haemorrhagic fever Ebola, the government said on Saturday.
Cases of the disease - among the most virulent pathogens known to infect humans, with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent - have been recorded in three southeastern towns and in the capital Conakry since Feb. 9. It has never before been recorded in Guinea.
"It is indeed Ebola fever. A laboratory in Lyon (France) confirmed the information," Damantang Albert Camara told Reuters. He updated the death toll, which had previously stood at 29.
World Health Organisation officials said that cases showing similar symptoms, including fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding, had also been reported in an area of Sierra Leone near the border with Guinea.
A Sierra Leone health official said on Saturday that authorities there were running tests to determine if the cases were part of the epidemic in Guinea.
The highly contagious disease, which is transmitted between humans through contact with organs, blood, secretions, or other bodily fluids, is most commonly found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan. (Reporting by Saliou Samb and Umaru Fofana in Freetown; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Kevin Liffey)