World Bulletin / News Desk
Health officials in France were investigating two suspected cases of deadly mouse-borne hantavirus in people who may have been exposed at Yosemite National Park this summer. .
Some 1,923 Europeans in 18 countries may be at risk of contracting hantavirus pulmonary syndrome from visits to the U.S. national park in California between June and August, according to an assessment by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Wednesday.
"In France, the French National Institute for Public Health Surveillance has reported an ongoing investigation into two potentially exposed cases," the European CDC said.
The disease has so far been confirmed to have killed two men and sickened four other people, all U.S. citizens, prompting the U.S. authorities to issue a health alert.
But officials are concerned that more Yosemite visitors could develop the lung disease over the next month. Most of the victims identified so far were believed to have been infected while staying in one of 91 "Signature" tent-style cabins in the park's popular Curry Village camping area.
Of the 10,000 people thought to be at risk, as many as 2,500 live outside the United States, park service epidemiologist David Wong said. U.S. health officials sent warnings to 39 other countries earlier this week that citizens who stayed in Yosemite should be on the lookout for symptoms of the lung disease.
Of the European visitors to Yosemite this summer, the greatest number came from France, at 502, the European assessment said. It said 342 British people also could have been exposed, along with 250 Germans and large groups from the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium.
There is no cure for hantavirus, which kills 36 percent of those it infects, but early detection through blood tests greatly increases survival rates. The disease has never been known to be transmitted between humans.
Last week, park officials shut down the "Signature" tent cabins after finding deer mice, which carry the disease, infesting the double walls.
Early symptoms of the disease include headache, fever, muscle aches, shortness of breath and coughing. The virus may incubate for up to six weeks after exposure and can lead to severe breathing difficulties and death.
The World Health Organization has announced that the Ebola virus has killed some 1,552 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, since the outbreak began in January.
UN deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson said the failure to address the issue of sanitation would prove “disastrous.”
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has taken 1,552 lives out of 3,069 known cases in four countries and "continues to accelerate", WHO said
Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah told AA the names would be announced later.
The WHO urged a range of "regulatory options", including prohibiting e-cigarette makers from making health claims
The doctor died after receiving the experimental drug ZMapp.
Japan has received inquiries from some countries on the influenza drug favipiravir, or T-705 as it is known in the developmental code.
Some 54 people have died in or near the capital Accra, and around 300 people are now being infected daily with the highly contagious disease, putting pressure on local health facilities, said Linda Van-Otoo, GHS director for Greater Accra.
A Philippine seaman is being monitored in Togo for signs of the disease but authorities say the country is still Ebola-free, despite dozens of workers returning from Liberia.
A 36-year-old man from Senegal is being tested in Barcelona.
MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has deployed 1,000 of its own staff in the stricken region, running centres that currently have 300 beds
On Wednesday, the residents of the two communities woke up just after the president ordered the quarantine only to find their community barricaded with soldiers and police officers preventing people from leaving or entering the two areas.
They were given ZMapp, a drug used on a handful of patients in the West African outbreak and produced by U.S.-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical.
A local priest who asked not to be named said that the illness had affected several villages and estimated that the death toll was over 100 people.
The calculation highlights the dilemma facing officials considering how to distribute the tiny quantities of unproven drugs that are likely to be available in the near term
"We are hopeful and grateful to God and to the medical team that they are showing signs of improvement," Liberia's Information Minister Lewis Brown told a press conference on Tuesday.