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Ireland testing dead person recently in Africa for Ebola

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland is testing a dead person who recently returned from Africa for the Ebola virus, the Health Service Executive (HSE) of Ireland said on Thursday.

Appropriate infection control procedures are being put in place in the community and at the mortuary in the north-west county of Donegal where the person's remains lie, pending the outcome of laboratory tests, the HSE said.

The test results are expected late on Friday and the risk of transmission of any disease is considered to be extremely low, it added in a statement.

"The public health department was made aware earlier today of the remains of an individual, discovered early this morning, who had recently traveled to one of the areas in Africa affected by the current Ebola virus disease outbreak," it said.

"Blood samples have been sent for laboratory testing to confirm whether or not this individual had contracted Ebola virus disease," the statement said.

It did not provide the age, gender or any other details about the dead person.

Very close personal contact with the infected individual or their body fluids would be needed for there to be any risk at all of contamination, Dr. Darina O' Flanagan, head of the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, said in the statement.

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that 2,473 people had been infected and 1,350 had died since the Ebola outbreak was identified in remote southeastern Guinea in March.

It said no cases of the disease had been confirmed so far outside of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, despite cases having been suspected elsewhere.

A Spanish priest died in hospital in Madrid last week, the first European infected by the virus, after contracting the disease while working for a non-governmental organization in Liberia.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Gareth Jones)