Ebola: Further infections and deaths in West Africa
The Ebola epidemic has been raging in West Africa for months. 44 new infections and 21 deaths were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) this week alone. While the number of new infections appears to be declining in Guinea, a significantly increased spread of the deadly plague can currently be observed in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Almost a month ago, the aid organization "Doctors Without Borders" had warned that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa had gotten completely out of control. Since then, the number of infections and deaths has skyrocketed. A total of 888 cases, including 539 deaths, have so far been reported to the WHO, although a significant number of unreported cases can be assumed and the number of people actually infected is likely to be significantly higher. Because the population's mistrust of doctors and health workers is great, so that those affected or their relatives often refuse to be examined.
Focus of outbreak currently in Sierra Leone and Liberia Since the beginning of the week, the WHO ministry has reported that numerous new cases and deaths have been reported by the health ministries in the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea had one new infection and two deaths. Liberia registered eleven new cases and four deaths. Sierra Leone reported 32 new cases and 15 deaths. According to the WHO, the current focus of the Ebola outbreak is “Kailahun and Kenema in Sierra Leone and Lofa and Montserrado in Liberia.” A total of 409 Ebola infections and 309 deaths from Guinea have been reported since the Ebola epidemic began. In Liberia, 142 people fell ill and 88 people died as a result of the infection. Sierra Leone reported 337 infections and 142 deaths.
Education of the population crucial In order to prevent the disease from spreading further, apart from isolating the patients and disinfecting their homes, education plays a crucial role, reports the Swiss Red Cross. The Red Cross of Guinea therefore mobilizes and trains volunteers who educate the population about preventive measures. According to the aid workers, the Guinea health system is overwhelmed with the fight against the epidemic, especially since cholera and measles have also broken out in the country. In addition to training volunteers in Guinea, appropriate helpers are also being trained in neighboring countries in the event that the epidemic continues to spread despite the countermeasures.
Extremely high risk of infection The Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with body fluids, which in view of the clinical picture leads to an extremely high risk of infection. Because those affected develop a so-called hemorrhagic fever with severe diarrhea, vomiting and the most severe internal and external bleeding. When dealing with sick people, contact with body fluids can hardly be avoided. Without appropriate precautionary measures, the pathogens can spread extremely quickly. It is also the first Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is why health authorities have been insufficiently prepared and the population has had no experience with the deadly virus. The only luck seems to be the fact that the current pathogen strain is less deadly than previous virus strains in which up to 90 percent of those infected died. (fp)
Picture: Dr. Karl Herrmann / pixelio.de