July 2014 – AFRICA – New cases of Ebola virus have been found in four additional counties in Liberia, raising the number of affected counties to seven out of a total of 15. The four counties are located in the west, center and east of Liberia, while the virus has affected mainly western parts of the county. Ebola has spread through several West African countries, including Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, since its latest outbreak in February. The death toll from the virus has surpassed 600 despite efforts by regional and international health experts to contain the epidemic. Guinea is the worst-hit country with more than 500 people losing their lives. Liberia has reported 105 deaths since the outbreak there in May, while 142 have lost their lives in Sierra Leone. There is currently no known cure for Ebola, a form of hemorrhagic fever whose symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. Some people in the affected communities reportedly believe that outsiders are spreading, rather than fighting, the Ebola outbreak. WHO noted on Tuesday that there have been at least 68 new deaths in the region from last week alone, bringing the death toll to 603 since February.
The virus has continued its spread throughout Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, despite local and international efforts to contain it. Epstein revealed that the main focus in the three countries currently is finding people who have been exposed to the disease, and placing them in a 21-day incubation period to see if they are infected. “It’s probably going to be several months before we are able to get a grip on this epidemic,” the WHO spokesman offered. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said about mobilizing leaders in West Africa to work together in welcoming medical professionals treating victims: “Sometimes the challenge for us is countries like to do disease control their way. But I think this is one such situation where countries must come together and adopt a similar approach to deal with a very dangerous disease.” The virus, which was first discovered in 1976, is known to have a 90 percent death rate for those infected. “The situation in West Africa should be a wake-up call to recognize that this weakening of this institution on which we all depend is not in anybody’s interest,” Scott Dowell, director of disease detection and emergency response at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a briefing in Washington. “In my view, there’s no way that WHO can respond in a way that we need it to.”
Ebola virus symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, which is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding, WHO explains. Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, which has sent a medical team to the region to offer help in battling the disease, said last week that it is directing efforts at an Ebola isolation center in Liberia, near the border with Guinea. “This is the largest outbreak of Ebola since it was first discovered in 1976 and it is the largest outbreak in Western Africa, with cases now showing up in national capital cities,” said Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs and government relations for Samaritan’s Purse. “Along with medical treatment, awareness and education are the keys to containing this outbreak.” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham has added that Ebola is “one of the most deadly diseases in the world, and it must be contained as quickly as possible.” –Press TV LA Times