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World Health Organization: Latest Ebola Outbreak Moving Too Fast to Control

| 4 Aug 2014 09:39

According to the W.H.O., the latest Ebola virus outbreak was "caused by the most lethal strain in the family of Ebola viruses."

In what could be a worrying statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the latest Ebola virus outbreak around the world is moving faster than it can be stopped, with a potential for the virus to have a "high risk" of spreading. Speaking to leaders of the three most affected countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) in Guinea's capital Conarky, Dr. Margaret Chan, W.H.O. director general made the following assessment:

"This is an unprecedented outbreak accompanied by unprecedented challenges. And these challenges are extraordinary...This outbreak is moving faster than our efforts to control it. If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries."

According to W.H.O numbers, the outbreak has caused 729 deaths and has left over 1,300 people with confirmed or suspected infections. Chan mentions that the outbreak was "caused by the most lethal strain in the family of Ebola viruses," and that the virus seemed to be spreading in ways never seen before. "It is taking place in areas with fluid population movements over porous borders, and it has demonstrated its ability to spread via air travel," Chan adds. Not helping matters to curb the virus has been what Chan calls a lack of public awareness, which she calls "invisible" chains of transmission. One example of this is people who choose not to go in isolation wards and seek professional medical aid in favor of receiving care at home from family members, which the disease can be transmitted to.

Even with this bad news, Chan reminds people that Ebola is "not an airborne virus. Transmission requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, also after death. Apart from this specific situation, the general public is not at high risk of infection by the Ebola virus." And while there's still no vaccine or curative therapy for the virus, Chan notes that it can be contained. "Bedrocks of outbreak containment include early detection and isolation of cases, contact tracing and monitoring of contacts, and rigorous procedures for infection control."

The Ebola virus was first identified in 1976, and has an alarming mortality rate of up to 90 percent among those infected. Symptoms for the virus include fever, muscle pain, and a headache, before it worsens to vomiting, diarrhea, internal and external bleeding, which will then lead to death.

While Chan's statement is a little worrying -- especially for those in affected countries, it's important to note that the virus can be contained. Just remember: Don't worry about airborne germs, but close contact with bodily fluids of an infected person are what you need to keep an eye out for.

Source: World Health Organization via The New York Times, The Verge

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