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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid