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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/26/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Deadly outbreak in West Africa threatens region, neighboring nations

Drastic action must be undertaken to halt the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa before it spreads to other areas and destabilizes an already fractious system, according to the World Health Organization. The current outbreak in Guinea has developed into a cross-border crisis that could spread to more nations, officials warn.

Civil society groups, governments and religious authorities have been blamed for failing to acknowledge the scale of the epidemic, resulting in few prominent figures promoting the fight against the disease.

Civil society groups, governments and religious authorities have been blamed for failing to acknowledge the scale of the epidemic, resulting in few prominent figures promoting the fight against the disease.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/26/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Ebola, World Health Organization, West Africa, social systems


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In spite of efforts by national health authorities and international aid organizations to contain the march of Ebola here, the WHO has recorded 635 infections, including 399 deaths, in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since February.

It's by far the deadliest outbreak since Ebola first emerged in central Africa in 1976. The number of infections continues to rise.

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"This is no longer a country specific outbreak but a sub-regional crisis that requires firm action by governments and partners," Luis Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa, says.

"WHO is gravely concerned by the on-going cross-border transmission into neighboring countries as well as the potential for further international spread," he said.

The organization said it will convene a special meeting of health ministers from 11 countries in Accra, Ghana on July 2 and 3 to develop a comprehensive inter-country response plan.

Ebola, fatal to 90 percent of all those infected, has no vaccine and no known cure. What's especially alarming about the new outbreak was that Ebola never occurred in the West Africa region. People there have become frightened of health facilities, blaming them for importing and spreading the virus.

Symptoms of the deadly virus include raging fever, headaches, muscle pain, conjunctivitis and weakness, before moving into more severe phases with vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external hemorrhaging.

"There is an urgent need to intensify response efforts; to promote cross-border collaboration and information sharing of suspected cases and contacts . and to mobilize all sectors of the community," Sambo said. "This is the only way that the outbreak will be effectively addressed."

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Frontiers said this week that a lack of understanding has meant people continue to prepare corpses and attend funerals of victims, leaving them vulnerable to a disease transmitted by touching victims or via bodily fluids.

Civil society groups, governments and religious authorities have been blamed for failing to acknowledge the scale of the epidemic, resulting in few prominent figures promoting the fight against the disease.

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