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Senegal 5th W. African nation with Ebola case

DAKAR -- The Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people across West Africa spread to a fifth country in the region on Friday with the first confirmed case of the deadly virus in Senegal.

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 U.S. 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 Aug. 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 US$490 million (370 million euros) to tackle.

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

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