October 2014 – AFRICA – WHO assistant director-general Dr Bruce Aylward said the 70% death rate marked “a high mortality disease” in any circumstance. He added that the UN health agency is still focused on trying to isolate sick people and provide treatment as early as possible. Previously, the WHO had said the death rate was around 50%. The announcement came as an international member of the United Nations’ medical team who was infected with Ebola in Liberia has died despite “intensive medical procedures,” a German hospital said. The St Georg hospital in Leipzig said the 56-year-old man, who has not been named, died of the infection overnight. It released no further details. The man tested positive for Ebola on October 6 and arrived in Leipzig for treatment on October 9, where he was put into a special isolation unit. Responding to the escalating crisis the WHO said that there could be up to 10,000 new cases of Ebola per week within two months. Dr Aylward said if the response to the Ebola crisis is not stepped up within 60 days, “a lot more people will die” and there will be a huge effort required on the ground to deal with the spiraling number of cases. The official added that for the last four weeks, there have been about 1,000 new cases per week, though that figure includes suspected, confirmed and probable cases.
Death toll rises: WHO increased its Ebola death toll tally to 4,447 people on Tuesday, nearly all of them in West Africa, from 8,914 cases. The death rate has risen to 70 percent— previously the WHO estimated the death rate at around 50 percent. Aylward said the 70 percent death rate was “a high mortality disease” in any circumstance and that the U.N. health agency was still focused on trying to get sick people isolated and provide treatment as early as possible.
Meanwhile in the US it has emerged that around 70 doctors and nurses were looking after Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to die from Ebola in America, raising fears it could have spread to more healthcare workers. Nurse Nina Pham, 26, was confirmed to have caught the virus while treating Duncan in Dallas, Texas, and on Tuesday there was growing concern for the remaining 70 or so members of his medical team. At least nine members of hospital staff went in and out of the room in Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Duncan, 42, was being isolated when he was at his sickest on the day before he died. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), said: “If this one individual was infected, and we don’t know how, within the isolation unit then it is possible that other individuals could have been infected as well. We need to consider the possibility there could be additional cases, particularly among the healthcare workers who cared for the patient when he was so ill. We’re concerned and unfortunately would not be surprised if we did see additional cases among healthcare workers.” The risk of further cases emerged as Miss Pham received a potentially life-saving blood transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, an American who contracted Ebola in West Africa but survived after treatment in the US. He has already given blood transfusions to two other patients, Dr Rick Sacra and British-American TV cameraman Ashoka Mukpo. –Independent