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Sri Lanka's health officials begin investigation into possible Ebola death

COLOMBO, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's health ministry has begun investigation into a possible case of the Ebola virus entering the island, local media reported on Tuesday.

A patient at a remote government hospital in the town of Rikillagaskada was reported to have died after exhibiting several symptoms of the dreadful Ebola disease including high fever, diarrhea and vomiting.

He was hospitalized after returning from India where he had worked periodically, according to local reports.

However, a communique issued by the State Media Department said that the symptoms could also mean that the man had Rat Fever and that further blood samples had been sent for testing to verify the cause of death.

There have been no reported cases of Ebola in India so far but a Nigerian woman on route to India has died in the United Arab Emirates after exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms of Ebola virus disease take two days to three weeks to become apparent. The virus spreads through contact with infected individuals' body fluid.

Earlier this month, the Sri Lankan government urged the return of hundreds of migrant workers employed in West Africa in an attempt to remove them from the threat of Ebola.

Sri Lankan officials have also decided to screen all in-bound passengers at the country's international airport for possible Ebola contamination.

However, risks are seen as low because Sri Lanka attracts few tourists from West Africa.

Ebola has no proven cures and there is no vaccine to prevent infection, so treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms such as fever, vomiting and diarrhoea -- all of which can contribute to severe dehydration.

The current outbreak, in which at least 1,711 people have so far been infected, of whom 932 have died, is the most severe one in almost 40 years since Ebola was identified in humans.