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Ebola hits 5th WAfrican state as Senegal confirms first case

The case marks the first time a new country has been hit by the outbreak since July and comes a day after the World Health Organization warned the number of infections was increasing rapidly.

Scientists meanwhile said the first human trials of a potential vaccine would start next week using a product made by pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline and the US government.

On Friday, scientists writing in the journal Nature said 18 lab monkeys given high doses of the Ebola virus fully recovered after being given the prototype drug ZMapp, which reversed bleeding in the animals.

ZMapp has been given to a handful of frontline health workers who have contracted Ebola, two of whom have recovered, and two of whom have died. Three others are still receiving the treatment.

Senegal's health ministry said the country's first Ebola patient was a young Guinean man who was immediately quarantined at a Dakar hospital, where he was in a "satisfactory condition".

The man is believed to have been infected in Guinea's capital Conakry, and may have travelled to Senegal before Dakar closed its land border with Guinea on August 21.

Authorities are now scrabbling to piece together where he went and who he encountered, in a bid to halt the spread of the deadly virus.

New figures released by the WHO on Thursday revealed the massive scale of the crisis, which it said indicated a "rapid increase still in the intensity of transmission" that could cost at least $490 million (370 million euros) to tackle.

In a sign that affected countries are struggling to stop its spread, the UN agency said the number of cases could exceed 20,000 before the epidemic is brought under control.

Under surveillance

Never before has there been an Ebola outbreak so large, nor has the virus -- which was first detected in 1976 -- ever infected people in West Africa until now.

As of August 26, 1,552 people had been confirmed dead from Ebola in four countries -- Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

Liberia was the worst affected with 694 deaths; 422 people have died in Sierra Leone; and 430 in Guinea, where the virus emerged at the start of the year. Nigeria has now recorded six deaths.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has also confirmed two cases of Ebola, but officials there insist it is unconnected to the current outbreak in West Africa.

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Women walk past the entrance to the University Hospital Fann, where a man is being treated for symptoms of the Ebola virus in Dakar, Senegal, Friday, Aug. 29

(AP)

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