"The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa continues to evolve in alarming ways, with no immediate end in sight," is the ominous warning this morning from the World Health Organization. The WHO statement confirmed that a stunning 170 health-care workers (the ones covered from head to toe in protective garments) have been infected with Ebola and at least 81 have died. "Treatment facilities are oveflowing," they note as they prepare to hold an emergency meeting today on experimental therapies. But apart from that, as Western media says, it is contained and does not pose a risk to Americans...
The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa continues to evolve in alarming ways, with no immediate end in sight. Many barriers stand in the way of rapid containment.
The most severely affected countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, have only recently returned to political stability following years of civil war and conflict, which left health systems largely destroyed or severely disabled.
The recent surge in the number of cases has stretched all capacities to the breaking point. Supplies of personal protective equipment and disinfectants are inadequate. The outbreak continues to outstrip diagnostic capacity, delaying the confirmation or exclusion of cases and impeding contact tracing.
Some treatment facilities are overflowing; all beds are occupied and patients are being turned away.
Six months into the outbreak, fear is proving to be the most difficult barrier to overcome. Fear causes contacts of cases to escape from the surveillance system, families to hide symptomatic loved ones or take them to traditional healers, and patients to flee treatment centres. Fear, and the hostility it can feed, have threatened the security of national and international response teams.
Health-care staff fear for their lives. To date, more than 170 health-care workers have been infected and at least 81 have died.
Outbreak control is further compromised when fear causes airlines to refuse to transport personal protective equipment and courier services to refuse to transport properly and securely packaged patient samples to a WHO-approved laboratory.
On Monday 11 August, WHO will hold an emergency meeting with ethicists, drug regulators, scientific experts and lay people to assess the role of experimental therapies in the Ebola outbreak response. Issues to be considered include the extent of available scientific data on efficacy and safety, principles for guiding access to these therapies, principles for fair distribution, and possibilities for rapid augmentation of supplies and their distribution.
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Bloomberg rounds up the latest news on the Ebola outbreak...
- Latest WHO death toll: 961
- Nigeria says 8 people being treated for Ebola
- Rwanda Health Ministry tests suspected Ebola case
- Romania treats patient suspected of Ebola infection: Mediafax
- GSK to test Ebola vaccine later this year: Guardian
- Ebola outbreak shows why global health system is broken: Bloomberg Businessweek
- Yahoo News’s Twitter feed hacked, looking into false tweet about outbreak in Atlanta: USA Today