News / Health

WHO: Ebola Spread Outpaces Control Effort

Ebola, labs worldwide, diagnostic and outbreak response
Ebola, labs worldwide, diagnostic and outbreak response
Lisa Schlein

The head of the World Health Organization has told the presidents of West African nations stricken by Ebola that the outbreak is moving faster than efforts to control it.

Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO's director general, says if the outbreak continues to worsen, the consequences could be "catastrophic" in terms of lost lives and socio-economic disruption.

Chan is in Conakry, where she met Friday with the presidents of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast.

WHO and the West African leaders are finalizing a $100 million plan to fight the spread of Ebola, which has claimed nearly 730 lives.  Chan said more than 60 health workers are among the victims, and that some international relief workers have been infected.

Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014
x
Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014
Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014

The WHO chief said her hope is the plan emerging from the Conakry meeting will mark "a turning point" in the international response to the outbreak.

Several hundred medical personnel are about to be deployed to West Africa, Chan said, and an emergency committee will meet on Wednesday to assess the international implications of the outbreak.

Unprecedented

Referring to the scale of the ongoing Ebola outbreak as unprecedented, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told VOA the outbreak is probably worse than the figures indicate.
 
“There could well be cases in the community that we have missed because this has been one of the biggest challenges in terms of also tracing contacts," Hartl said. "People run away.  They do not want to be treated in the health centers.  They are afraid or they do not believe that the health centers can do them any good, so they try to be treated by their families and they get sick and die there.”
 
Hartl says key elements of the emergency plan are to stop transmission of the Ebola virus and to prevent the spread of the disease to neighboring at-risk countries by strengthening and scaling up all control and response measures. 
 
Challenges

He calls this a huge undertaking and says 600 more people are needed in the field to carry it out.

x

“The biggest challenge of this outbreak has been the fact that there are so many different centers of transmission," Hartl said.  "And, at every center of transmission you need a full team of clinical specialists, of infection control specialists, of logisticians, of lab people, of community communicators, of epidemiologists who go out and trace contacts.”
 
According to Benoit Carpentier, spokesman for the International Red Cross Federation, identifying people infected with Ebola and tracing those who have come in contact with them is a mammoth task.
 
“If one person that is contaminated gets into contact with 20 other people, then you have got 20 people you need to follow up for 21 days," Carpentier said.  "And, if these 20 people get in contact with 20 others-you see how it gets exponential very, very quickly.”
 
Incubation period

Ebola has an incubation period of between two and 21 days.  It is spread through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.  There is no cure and fatality rates can be as high as 90 percent.  But, health officials stress people who seek treatment at a clinic as soon as they fall ill have a better chance of survival.
 
Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external hemorrhaging from areas like eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.
 
Some 2,400 volunteers from the International Red Cross Federation have been working in the three infected countries since the Ebola epidemic started.   Carpentier says it is this message of hope that Red Cross volunteers are trying to communicate.
 
“We have a good example of a person in Guinea that was infected and survived and he is now a Red Cross volunteer and he goes from community to community to actually pass these messages…of hope," he noted.
 
Slow initial response

West African leaders were initially slow to react to the outbreak.  They now are taking extraordinary measures to contain the disease.  Liberia has closed its schools, ordered non-essential public servants to stay home from work and closed its borders.  Sierra Leone has declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims.
 
Hartl says it is too soon to know whether these measures will be successful.
 
“But, certainly, it is very good that these countries are thinking along the lines of the fact that something extraordinary needs to be done…I think what we need to do is look at any and all measures, which are taken in the light of will they help bring the outbreak under control," he said.

  • An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation sprays disinfectant along the streets to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014.
  • An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation mixes disinfectant before spraying it on the streets to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
  • An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation sprays disinfectant inside a government building to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia,  August 1, 2014. 
  • Liberian soldiers walk through the streets to prevent panic as fears of the deadly Ebola virus spread in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
  • Liberian soldiers walk through the streets in an attempt to control public fears of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014.
  • An Ebola public awareness campaign utilitzes a billboard with the face of Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Monrovia, Liberia, July 31, 2014. 
  • A Liberian military police truck with information on the prevention of Ebola patrols through the city, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
  • Liberian soldiers patrol the streets on foot and in vehicles to help prevent panic, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014.
  • Liberian soldiers in a medical truck with a posted sign on it that reads 'Ebola Must Go,' as it drives around the city to help prevent panic, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
  • Center for Disease Control photo showing an Aeromedical Biological Containment System which looks like a sealed isolation tent intended for Ebola air transportation, July 31, 2014.

On alert

In Nigeria Friday, authorities closed a mortuary in southern Anambra State and quarantined the staff in a new Ebola alert. Health officials suspect a Nigerian man whose body is at the facility died of Ebola after being infected in Liberia. 

U.S. health authorities are warning against travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  But, the World Health Organization does not endorse a travel ban.
 
It also advises against border closures saying they might be helpful, but are not foolproof.  The U.N. health agency says the best way to tackle Ebola and to stop the outbreak is to put the necessary measures in place at the source of the infection.

WATCH: Related video report by Mary Alice Salinas

West Africa Ebola Deaths Top 725, US Issues Travel Warningi
X
August 01, 2014 11:16 AM
The World Health Organization says the number of Ebola deaths in four West African countries now tops 725. The United States is warning travelers to avoid any non-essential trips to hardest-hit countries, as health officials race to contain the virus. VOA's Mary Alice Salinas has the latest from Washington.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rev Ilonzo Ikechukwu from: Misionary
August 03, 2014 5:28 AM
My suggestion,though I don't know the cost; W.H.O is doing their best at least the money maped out now after the meeting in conakry Guinea will help to start doing something. My suggestion is, Let everybody surrender himself for medical test. Goverment should put this as must and use force on it since we Africans use to do right things with force. If anyone is positive,goverment will take care of that person until he or she suvrived or die no matter numbers of the people. This it stop outbreak of ebola virus.

by: Memenatu from: Koroma
August 02, 2014 8:33 AM
In my opinion, the best way to combat and eradicate Ebola is to give the present best vaccine now. Alternatively, the drugs to suppress the Ebola virus should be given out immediately even though they are not widely known. This was done for HIV and recently the cure for AIDS is here. 'WHO and the West African leaders are finalizing a $100 million plan to fight the spread of Ebola, which has claimed nearly 730 lives in West Africa.' So, a discussed percentage of the fund could be used to help obtain these drugs and share them with infected persons in order to halt this deadly disease that could become a pandemic. The drugs are BCX4430, ZMab, Draco and Favipiravir.

by: mcstar from: NC
August 01, 2014 6:56 PM
I truley can not believe that the CDC thinks it is safe to bring a person with Ebola to the United States. Quarantined or not, leave that mess over in Africa! We are definitely nearing the end of times!

by: Nina from: Texas
August 01, 2014 5:25 PM
I feel that it is a terrible mistake bringing these people back to the US. I realize they are saying that all preventative measures will be taken. But the risk factor still comes into play.We are all human and being mere mortals, tend to make mistakes,big and small. It only takes one time mishandling of this to cause a horrible spread in this nation.. Just too risky...

by: Dwight Muntzer from: indiana
August 01, 2014 12:59 PM
The World better wake up the demon is at the door.

by: meanbill from: USA
August 01, 2014 12:50 PM
REMEMBER when the medical experts told the world in 1981 that AIDS wouldn't become a worldwide epidemic, if you practiced safe sex?... (and now), those same medical experts say, (that EBOLA is the deadliest of all diseases, and is easer to contact and spread), but the odds of EBOLA spreading into a worldwide epidemic is extremely remote?...... Yea, we can believe them can't we?.... how any millions of people have AIDS worldwide?

by: Richard Mc from: North Carolina
August 01, 2014 10:20 AM
I was wondering when someone was going to try to get on top of this.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs