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

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.