News / Health

To Halt Ebola, W. Africa Takes Dramatic Measures

FILE - Medical staff working with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) bring food to patients isolated at a treatment center in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, July 20, 2014.
FILE - Medical staff working with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) bring food to patients isolated at a treatment center in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, July 20, 2014.
Anne Look

Sierra Leone and Liberia are implementing dramatic new measures to try to contain a regional Ebola outbreak that has already killed hundreds.

The president of Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency and quarantined affected regions. Liberia is considering doing the same. 

CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of EbolaCDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola
x
CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola
CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola

Since March, Ebola has killed at leat 729 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, including more than 50 new fatalities reported since last Friday, the World Health Organization reported. The WHO says the total number of cases in West Africa stands at 1,323.

Guinea has the largest number of Ebola-related deaths at 339, followed by Sierra Leone at 233 and Liberia at 156. The overall toll includes a man with U.S. and Liberian citizenship who died in Nigeria last week. Another man with U.S. and Liberian citizenship died in Nigeria last week soon after arriving on a flight that made stops in Ghana and Togo.

The WHO says Nigerian authorities have identified 59 people who may have come into contact with that man before he died.

This is the worst outbreak of Ebola since the disease was discovered in 1976, but the strategy for fighting it is the same: containment. That means isolating the sick and monitoring those who have had contact with anyone ill.

Containing threat

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced new measures to combat what she said is the rapid spread of the disease in her country. She ordered all schools closed, without exception, and said quarantines were being considered for several communities.

"When these measures are instituted," she said, "only health care workers will be permitted to move in and out of those areas."

Sirleaf put all non-essential government employees on a 30-day mandatory leave and restricted travel for government officials.

In Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma said he is quarantining areas where the disease is found, restricting public meetings and deploying security forces to quarantine the “epicenters” of the disease in the country's east.  Police will enforce the screening of everyone going in or out, he said, and trained volunteers will track down people who have been exposed. 

The measures will be in place for 60 to 90 days, Koroma said.

"Ebola is real," Koroma insisted in an address to the nation. "Ebola kills.”

 

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

Guinea has the largest number of Ebola-related deaths at 339, followed by Sierra Leone at 233 and Liberia at 156.  Another man with U.S. and Liberian citizenship died in Nigeria last week soon after arriving on a flight that made stops in Ghana and Togo.

The WHO says Nigerian authorities have identified 59 people who may have come into contact with the man before he died.

Fear, superstition bring challenges

Health workers have met resistance from communities in Sierra Leone and the two other affected countries. 

Fear, mistrust and superstition have made it difficult, and sometimes dangerous, for health workers.  Meanwhile, the disease has spread to new communities.

Liberia and Sierra Leone have ordered police to protect health workers and facilities following attacks and incidents of sick people being forcibly removed from clinics. 

In both countries, it is already against the law to harbor someone suspected of having Ebola.

Koroma announced he will go to Guinea Friday to meet with his Guinean and Liberian counterparts. He also canceled a trip next week to Washington, where President Barack Obama is hosting a summit of African leaders.

Peace Corps responds

Meanwhile, two U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Liberia have been isolated after potential exposure to Ebola. A spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday the two “had contact with an individual who later died of the Ebola virus."

The organization is temporarily removing all of its volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea as a precautionary measure.

Doctors Without Borders is among the medical groups trying to fight the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone. The group's Anja Wolz said it lacks the staffing to fully address "a difficult situation."

"We only have the possibility to work in the case management centers and we don't have the capacity to go outside," Wolz said. "I would say, we are on the top of an iceberg in the moment because the contact tracing is not really functioning. ... To find the patient as soon as possible and to refer them to the case management center, it's the basic for an Ebola outbreak."

Flights dropped

Two of the main airlines servicing the region, Asky and Arik, have canceled flights in and out of Freetown and Monrovia after an infected Liberian man traveled by plane to Lagos last week and died there of the disease.

That incident put the international community on high alert, but the World Health Organization says the risk to travelers is low.

There is no vaccine or cure for Ebola, which can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.  The disease is characterized by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and unstoppable bleeding from areas such as the eyes, ears and nose.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.  Health officials are warning people to not touch Ebola patients and to avoid burial rituals that require handling the body of an Ebola fatality.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More