At least 59 people dead in Guinea Ebola outbreak
March 23, 2014 -- Updated 1528 GMT (2328 HKT)
- NEW: Medical charity MSF to set up isolation units in affected areas
- At least 59 out of 80 who contracted Ebola have died, UNICEF says
- Most cases were in Guinea's southern forest areas, health minister says
- Symptoms include fever, vomiting and diarrhea
(CNN) -- An Ebola outbreak has killed at least 59 people in Guinea, UNICEF said, as the deadly hemorrhagic fever has quickly spread from southern communities in the West African nation.
Experts in the country had been unable to identify the disease, whose symptoms -- diarrhea, vomiting and fever -- were first observed last month.
Health Minister Remy Lamah said Saturday initial test results confirm the presence of a viral hemorrhagic fever, which according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to a group of viruses that affect multiple organ systems in the body.
In a written statement, UNICEF said at least 59 out of 80 people who contracted Ebola have died. At least three of the victims were children.
How Ebola virus spreads
"In Guinea, a country with a weak medical infrastructure, an outbreak like this can be devastating," the UNICEF representative in Guinea, Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, said in the statement.
UNICEF has prepositioned supplies and stepped up communication on the ground to sensitize medical staff and local populations on how to avoid contracting the illness, Agoya added.
The Guinean Health Ministry warned that the disease is mainly spread from infected people, from objects belonging to ill or dead people, and by the consumption of meat from animals in the bush.
So far, most of the cases have been in the forest area of southern Guinea, and health officials say they are offering free treatment for all patients.
They've urged people to stay calm, wash their hands and report all cases to authorities.
The international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres announced on Saturday it was reinforcing its medical and logistics teams in Guinea in response to the epidemic.
It is also flying in 33 tons of medicines and equipment and setting up isolation units in the three affected areas in the country.
"Isolation units are essential to prevent the spread of the disease, which is highly contagious," Dr. Esther Sterk, MSF tropical medicine adviser, said in a written statement. "Specialized staff are providing care to patients showing signs of infection."
2012: Uganda declares end of Ebola outbreak
CNN's Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.