I am sharing information from www.internationalsos.com on the recent epidemic ravaging some parts of West Africa.
Find details below as shared on their site.
An uncontrolled outbreak of Ebola virus is currently underway in several countries in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone). This is the largest Ebola outbreak ever reported, both in terms of case numbers and geographical spread. It's also the first time the disease has affected large cities. Capital cities of these nations are affected.
The disease is spreading person to person, causing significant international concern and disrupting both the health and economy of these countries as well as neighboring nations. in late July, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a Grade 3 emergency, its highest level of any emergency response. In early August, they declared it an Public Health Emergency of International Concern, meaning it is a serious public health event that endangers international public health.
An outbreak begins: the first round
This outbreak began in Guinea. The first case there occurred in December 2013, though it was not reported to the World Health Organization/identified as Ebola until March 2014. This significant delay means that control measures were not enacted for months, allowing the virus to take hold in the community. Soon after the disease was brought to international attention, cases were also reported in neighboring Liberia. This progression was upsetting but not unpredictable: borders in the affected area are often porous, with people walking from one nation to another on a daily basis.
Control measures were enacted in both countries, and seemed effective. By the beginning of April, disease activity slowed. It looked like the outbreak was heading to its end.
A false sense of relief
However, unexpectedly, cases spiked again in late May. New areas were affected. Ebola struck people in areas that had never had an Ebola infection before. The disease also intensified in places where people had previously been infected.
The disease also began actively spreading for the first time in Sierra Leone in late May. New cases continue in all three affected countries and beyond: Nigeria reported the first imported case in late July, in a man who had flown internationally.
Epidemic is not under control
The World Health Organization stated in July that there is a high risk that the outbreak will spread to other countries that border Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (the three countries initially affected by the outbreak). Indeed, the disease was imported into Nigeria that month. WHO states there is a moderate risk that other countries in the West African subregion will be affected. Infrastructure limitations will contribute to international spread, as it is difficult to implement health measures at border points or to effectively trace and monitor contacts of Ebola patients. People may travel from one area to another to seek healthcare, which is limited in some places.
This Ebola outbreak is not under control. Resources and personnel are stretched in trying to handle the situation. Cultural concerns also play a role: some people in these countries do not believe Ebola is an actual disease. Others are unethically selling a counterfeit “vaccine” to protect people (there is no vaccine for Ebola). Conspiracy theories circulate. Misinformation and mistrust make it difficult to implement national and international health measures – which are critical to bringing the disease under control.
The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola situation to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in early August. The statement confirms that countries in which Ebola is spreading form person to person should declare a national emergency, and consider temporarily stopping mass gatherings. All affected countries are also instructed to screen exiting international travellers with, at minimum, a questionnaire and temperature measurement. Anyone who has Ebola or symptoms of Ebola should not travel. Contacts of Ebola cases should be monitored on a daily basis, and should not travel nationally or internationally for 21 days after exposure. WHO expects countries to ensure airline crews have "appropriate medical care" when operating in affected countries, and have mechanisms for contact tracing travellers. WHO again reiterated there is "no general ban on international travel or trade", however Ebola cases and their contacts should only travel if "the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation".
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