11 Die, 5 Hospitalized After Contracting Mystery Illness

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May 01, 2017 09:32 PM EDT

Eleven people were reported dead and five hospitalized after contracting a mystery illness which was linked to the attendance at the funeral of a religious leader, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Francis Kateh, Liberia's chief medical officer, said they are still investigating the cause of the deaths and the only thing they have ruled out is Ebola.

Kateh said the five people who are hospitalized remain under observation in Sinoe county, which is a four-hour drive southeast of Monrovia, the capital. Four have been discharged.

According to the World Health Organization, health authorities in Liberia have taken precautionary steps after eight people have died of the mystery illness, 10 months after the end of the two-year Ebola virus outbreak.

Fadela Chaib, WHO spokesperson, told a briefing in Geneva, according to a report on NBC News, that the people who contracted the illness were attending the funeral of a religious leader.

Chaib said they had taken samples from the dead bodies and all came back negative for Ebola. She added they will be looking for other haemorrhagic fevers and for bacteria, if there was any common exposure to water contamination or food contamination.

She added the symptoms of the people who got ill include fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Staff at the hospital attending the sick who recently contracted the illness are wearing protective equipment. Chaib also said they are tracing the community if anybody had fallen ill after contact with those who died or have been hospitalized.

Liberia had been declared free of active Ebola virus transmission in June last year. The country was the last of three West African countries that was at the epicentre of the world's worst outbreak of the disease. According to data from WHO, the Ebola epidemic had claimed the lives of more than 11,300 people and had infected around 28,600 starting 2013 as it spread through Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

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