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

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid