August 2014 – SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia is testing a man for suspected Ebola infection after he returned recently from a business trip to Sierra Leone, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday. It said the man, a Saudi in his 40s, was at a hospital in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after showing “symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever,” which resemble symptoms of the Ebola virus. The ministry said it had taken precautionary measures, including isolating the patient at a specialist hospital and had sent blood samples to an international laboratory in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) for further checks. Ebola is one of the deadliest diseases known in humans with a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent. The death rate in the current West Africa outbreak is around 60 percent. –Arabian Business
Outbreak worse than we know: The worst outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in history could actually be much worse than the official death toll reflects. Already, the World Health Organization says 887 people have died, but a top doctor working at the heart of the outbreak in West Africa says many cases are going unreported. The senior doctor, who works for a leading medical organization in Liberia, explained to CBS News’ Debora Patta that what has helped set this outbreak apart from previous ones is the virus’ spread in urban areas. One of the epicenters of the disease is the Liberian capital of Monrovia, home to about a million people, or almost a quarter of the country’s population. The doctor, who spoke to CBS News on condition of confidentiality, said the disease is spinning out of control in Africa partly because it is extremely difficult to contain it in a sprawling, congested city center.
The official Ebola death toll jumped from 729 to 887 on Monday as Liberia confirmed dozens of new cases, but the doctor told us he believes the real number is at least 50 percent higher. He put this down to the fact that people are scared to report Ebola cases, and have instead been hiding sick relatives and burying the still-contagious bodies of the dead in secret. Traditions in parts of West Africa involve touching bodies before burial — potentially putting unknown numbers of family and community members at risk. The Liberian government has ordered that the corpses of all Ebola victims be cremated. The international non-profit group Doctors Without Borders has issued a statement saying it is over-stretched and under-staffed on the ground in the region, and its workers still don’t have a full grasp on all the infected areas. The implication in that statement is that the disease could be quietly spreading in parts of Liberia and neighboring nations where victims’ families have not yet come forward. –CBS
UPATE – Saudi man tested for Ebola dies in hospital: A Saudi national, who fell ill after returning from Sierra Leone, died early Wednesday in his hospital isolation ward where he was being tested for the Ebola virus, said the Saudi Health Ministry. The 40-year-old returned on Sunday from Sierra Leone, where there has been an Ebola outbreak, and was then hospitalized in Jiddah after showing symptoms of the viral hemorrhagic fever. The patient’s samples are being tested in an international reference lab on the advice of the World Health Organization. He had already tested negative for dengue fever. Different types of viral hemorrhagic fevers have been found in the kingdom, but the ministry statement said no case of Ebola has ever been detected there. Ebola, which has no proven vaccine or treatment, has killed nearly 900 people this year in four countries in West Africa. Saudi Arabia announced in April that it was not issuing visas this year to Muslim pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea as a precaution to avoid the spread during the hajj pilgrimage, which sees massive crowds of people from around the world gather in Mecca. Saudi Ambassador in Guinea Amjad Bedaiwi was quoted in the Saudi Arab News Wednesday saying the decision affects a total of 7,400 pilgrims from those three countries. –ABC News + filed August 6, 2014