News / Health

WHO: Ebola in Guinea an Outbreak, Not an Epidemic

FILE - People read news headlines at a newsstand in Conakry, March 28, 2014.
FILE - People read news headlines at a newsstand in Conakry, March 28, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the Ebola outbreak in Guinea is very serious, but has not reached epidemic proportions.  The latest WHO figures show 80 people have died among the 122 suspected cases of Ebola in Guinea.

The organization is trying to calm a sense of panic in some areas about the seriousness of the Ebola outbreak in the West African country of Guinea.  It rejects claims by the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders that the outbreak of the disease is “unprecedented.”

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl says there have been larger outbreaks of Ebola recorded in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  He says the outbreak in Guinea is relatively small compared to the one in Uganda in 2000 and 2001, which infected more than 400 people.

Four cases of the disease have been reported in the Guinean capital, Conakry, but Hartl says it is not unusual to have cases in capital cities.  

“In Gabon in the 1990s, I believe there were cases in Libreville.  The same idea where someone basically was infected elsewhere and got him or herself to Libreville because of basically the medical facilities being better in the capital than elsewhere.  The source of infection is still quite localized in the southeast of Guinea.  So, for us, this fits the pattern of all previous Ebola outbreaks,” said Hartl.

The World Health Organization says the disease has not spread to other countries.  

It says the seven suspected cases of Ebola, including four deaths, in neighboring Liberia occurred among Liberians who traveled to Guinea and were infected there.  It notes laboratory tests of several suspected cases in Sierra Leone have all come back negative.

Ebola is spread through blood and other bodily fluids from an infected person.  It can also be transmitted by the handling of contaminated corpses.  Bats and primates are the original source of the infection.

Hartl says it is essential to stop the chains of transmission.

“It is a question of controlling infection in hospitals," he said.  "It is a question of controlling transmission among the people who might have been infected and do not know they have been infected yet and are not in hospitals.  Hence, as always, the two most important things are what we do in hospitals and how we trace contacts.”

Authorities in Senegal have closed the land border with Guinea to prevent the spread of Ebola into their country.  Hartl tells VOA that WHO does not recommend travel restrictions, which he says do not make sense.  

The incubation period for Ebola can be as long as 21 days.  The World Health Organization says the outbreak cannot be considered over until two incubation periods of 42 days have passed without a single transmission of the virus.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs