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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Ebola outbreak now most deadly ever

    Ebola outbreak now most deadly ever in West Africa

    Jennifer Lazuta, Special for USA TODAY12:10 p.m. EDT June 28, 2014


    (Photo: Ahmed Jallanzo, epa)

    DAKAR, Senegal ó West Africa's first-ever Ebola outbreak in humans is now the most deadly and geographically widespread outbreak on record, and is threatening to spread, health officials say.

    According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been more than 635 cases of Ebola across three countries in the region since the outbreak was first declared in southeastern Guinea in March. It has since spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. At least 399 people have died.


    "It's very much a serious outbreak," said Daniel Epstein, spokesperson for the WHO. "I wouldn't say it's out of control but the emergence of this outbreak definitely threatens regional public health security. We've ramped up our response, in so far as we can, but we have to continue to improve our work to contain this outbreak."


    About 150 WHO experts are now on the ground, working alongside local health ministries and clinics as well as international partners to stop the transmission chain, prevent new cases and treat those currently affected.


    WHO announced Friday that key players from 11 countries in the region will meet in Ghana starting Wednesday to discuss the outbreak, as well as how countries in the region can work together to step up response efforts.


    Many challenges to fighting the virus have developed, stirring concern the outbreak could get worse due to ignorance, the free movement of peoples, local customs and suspicion of foreigner doctors.


    "In some cases, we've had really bad experiences where we've sent teams of health communicators into villages: They've been run out of the town, stones have been thrown at them, they've been threatened with machetes and told to stay away," Epstein said.


    That's because many people are suspicious of foreign doctors and nurses, and often deny the existence of Ebola, he said.


    Despite mass public health campaigns about the dangers of Ebola and the modes of transmission, many communities continue to practice traditional burial rituals, which can help spread the virus.


    "People come to say goodbye, they touch the body, they kiss the body, they leave presents with the body," said Hilde De Clerck, a medical doctor with Doctors Without Borders who just returned from Guinea.

    "And since Ebola is spread through very close physical contact (via bodily fluids, such as sweat, saliva or blood), people who care for the sick or their bodies are particularly at risk."


    Often, patients who are suspected of having Ebola will run away from treatment centers, fearing the stigma that may come along with the diagnosis, health officials say. Other times, family members who have been in contact with infected individuals will deny such contact when questioned by health workers, further complicating the process of cutting off the chain of contamination.


    Cross-border transmission to neighboring countries also remains a concern, as people continue to travel freely from one country to another, even if sick.


    "People have very big social networks in this region and they often move about, whether it's for work or to go to the market or to visit family," De Clerck said. "And since Ebola has an incubation time of up to three weeks, it means a person can be infected and move around and then fall sick elsewhere, sometimes quite far away."


    Another challenge has been following up with those who have been potentially infected. For example, in Guinea's Guekedou region, where the outbreak first began, health workers say they must take the vital signs of at least 500 people each day to make sure they have not become infected. Such efforts require extensive resources and manpower, which are now stretched thin.


    While experts say these moves have been helping, they have not been enough to stop or contain the outbreak. Earlier this month, Ebola spread to Liberia's capital, Monrovia, for the first time and the death toll across all three countries, particularly in Sierra Leone, continues to rise.


    The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which has been launching mass media campaigns and educating people door-to-door to spread information about the virus since the outbreak first began, says it's now time for all the countries in the region to work together.


    "(This Ebola outbreak) has always been a critical emergency," said Dr. Maurice Hours, a health adviser for UNICEF in West and Central Africa. "But now there is a real danger that it could spread to neighboring countries, such as the Ivory Coast and Guinea Bissau. We are quite concerned."

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/w...reak/11615045/

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Ebola toll jumps to 467 as ministers mull response

    Reuters - ‎8 minutes ago‎
    GENEVA (Reuters) - The number of deaths attributed to an epidemic of Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone stood at 467 by Monday, out of 759 known cases in total, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday...
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    3 July 2014 Last updated at 22:56 ET

    Ebola outbreak: West African states agree strategy

    Health workers, like these in Kenema, Sierra Leone, are taking blood samples to screen for the virus

    Related Stories




    Health ministers from 11 West African countries have adopted a common strategy to fight a deadly Ebola outbreak in the region.

    At an emergency meeting in Ghana, ministers promised better collaboration to fight what has become the world's deadliest outbreak to date.


    So far, 759 people have been infected with the virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and 467 of them have died.


    The two-day meeting was called by the World Health Organization (WHO).


    Under the new strategy, the WHO will open a sub-regional control centre in Guinea to co-ordinate technical support.


    Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's assistant director-general of health security, said it was "impossible to give a clear answer" on how far the epidemic could spread.

    "I certainly expect that we are going to be dealing with this outbreak, minimum, for a few months to several months," he told AFP news agency.


    "I really hope to see a turnaround where we begin to see a decrease in cases in the next several weeks."


    BBC West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy says educating people rather than closing borders is seen as the most effective way to contain the outbreak.


    Cultural practices and traditional beliefs in some areas have hampered public health measures, contributing to the spread of the disease, he adds.


    In some cases, mobs have attacked health workers forcing emergency centres to close.


    The WHO has already sent more than 150 experts into West Africa over the past few months to try to contain the outbreak.


    But it says political commitment is needed from the region itself to ensure this outbreak is stopped soon.


    Most of the deaths have been centred in the southern Guekedou region of Guinea, where the outbreak was first reported in February.


    But health officials say the region's porous borders have allowed infected people to carry the disease into other countries.


    Ebola spreads through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids and there is no vaccine or cure. It kills up to 90% of those infected.



    Ebola virus disease (EVD)


    • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
    • Fatality rate can reach 90%
    • Incubation period is two to 21 days
    • There is no vaccine or cure
    • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
    • Fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the virus


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-28156263


    In pictures: Battling Ebola in West Africa

    Why Ebola is so dangerous


    More on This Story

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    From other news sites



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    WHO reports 50 new Ebola cases and 25 deaths in West Africa

    Published July 08, 2014 Reuters

    Health workers take blood samples for Ebola virus testing at a screening tent in the local government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Tommy Trenchard

    Fifty new cases of Ebola and 25 deaths have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since July 3, as the deadly virus continues to spread in families, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

    In a statement, the United Nations agency said that the latest figures from health ministries in the three countries showed a total of 844 cases including 518 deaths in the epidemic that began in February.


    Guinea's ministry reported two deaths since July 3, but no new cases in the past week, the WHO said, calling the situation in the affected region of West Africa a "mixed picture".


    Sierra Leone accounted for 34 of the new cases and 14 deaths, while Liberia reported 16 new cases and 9 deaths, it said, adding: "These numbers indicate that active viral transmission continues in the community."


    WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib, speaking to a Geneva news briefing earlier on Tuesday, said: "This means that the two main modes of transmission are home care, people who care for their relative at home, and during funerals, are still ongoing.


    "If we don't stop the transmission in the several hotspots in the three countries we will not be able to say that we control the outbreak," she said.


    West African countries and international health organizations adopted a fresh strategy last Thursday to fight the world's deadliest Ebola epidemic to date.

    Measures include better surveillance to detect the virus and enhancing cross-border cooperation.

    http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/0...n-west-africa/

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