News / Health

No Quick End in Sight for Ebola Epidemic in West Africa

The Arwa clinic, center, that was closed after the clinic Doctor got infected by the Ebola virus in the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, July 15, 2014.
The Arwa clinic, center, that was closed after the clinic Doctor got infected by the Ebola virus in the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, July 15, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization says the Ebola epidemic circulating in three West African countries shows no signs of diminishing and fears it is likely to continue for many months.  Latest WHO figures put the number of cases of this deadly disease at 964, including 603 deaths. 

The deadly Ebola virus is continuing to spread in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia nearly four months after it was first detected in remote forest communities of Guinea.  There is no vaccine or cure for the virus, which is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person.  

The World Health Organization reports Ebola victims in West Africa are dying at a rate of 60 percent.  WHO spokesman Dan Epstein said it probably would be several months before governments and health agencies got a grip on this epidemic and cases of the disease started going down.

“It is pretty horrifying, I think, anytime you have an epidemic that has a case fatality rate of above 50 percent where more than half the people infected die, it is horrifying.  So, of course, we are very worried and that is why we are increasing our efforts.  In terms of how long it will take, it is very hard to predict.  It depends on our success in the five important areas of epidemiology, contact tracing, education very importantly, community level participation, changing of habits of burial practices,” he said.  

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

There have been periodic outbreaks of Ebola in Africa since it was first detected in the mid-1970s in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire.  This is the first outbreak of the disease in West Africa and it is proving to be the deadliest on record.  

Since people have no experience with the disease, they do not know how the virus is transmitted.  People often refuse treatment because they are suspicious of health workers.  

x

Epstein said this was a huge impediment toward stopping its spread.   He said it was important to trace all people who have been in contact with an infected person in order to contain the disease.  

He told VOA it was very difficult for foreign health workers to get into communities because they were viewed with hostility, intimidated and often driven away by the residents.

“It is really kind of a matter of rumor control.  It is myths and facts.  So we have to dispel these myths about Ebola that are prevalent and that are circulating as rumors that are very damaging.  You know like the myth that foreigners are bringing Ebola to your villages or that if you go to the hospital, you will die and they will take your organs.  Or crazy bits like that are hard to dispel."

"So, it is early to say whether we are being successful, but we are certainly increasing our effort in education and social mobilization in villages in all the three countries,” he said. 

Epstein said WHO was reaching out to religious and traditional leaders for help in gaining the confidence of villagers so health workers could break this damaging cycle of suspicion and bring the epidemic to an end.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Heidi from: Santa Cruz
July 15, 2014 10:33 PM
So Gingrey from Georgia , who said he was warned by homeland security that the children from Honduras, El Salvador , and Guatemala , could carry the Ebola virus, originally came from Africa? Listen to Pope Francis. Xenophobic racism is Anti-American. Help The children, everywhere, and address the violence in Central America so they stay home in safety.
In Response

by: jerry Mcdowel from: anne arbor
July 16, 2014 6:05 AM
william branham cult is west africa is the people rsponsible for this evil disease spreading..many members have ebola and they are not telling the authorities...they have sick hidden away in south africa...we should ban this religion from coming to the EU AND USA

by: plattenfeld from: Japan
July 15, 2014 9:41 AM
Aren't there any research teams or pharmaceutical companies that are seeking to make a novel anti-viral drug that can cure Ebola virus disease?
In Response

by: Dennis from: California
July 15, 2014 12:53 PM
Yes, they are working on vaccines and drugs, but the work is very difficult, as the virus is so dangerous.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs