The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is going to get worse before it gets better, according to the top US public health official. The current outbreak is the deadliest since Ebola was discovered in 1976.
Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, said the epidemic would need an “unprecedented” response to bring it under control. Health ministers from across West Africa are due to meet in Ghana to discuss the growing crisis.
The World Health Organization says the outbreak has killed 1,427 people. The health body says it is the largest ever Ebola epidemic and has infected an estimated 2,615 people. Liberia has been hardest-hit of the affected countries, with 624 deaths and 1,082 cases since the start of the year.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
- Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
- Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%
- Incubation period is two to 21 days
- There is no vaccine or cure
- Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
- Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host
Highlights from CDC as of August 20, 2014
The Guinean Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia, and the Nigerian Ministry of Health are working with national and international partners to investigate and respond to the outbreak.
- The Guinea Ministry of Health announced 607 suspect and confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD), including 443 laboratory-confirmed cases, and 406 deaths.
- Affected districts include Conakry, Guéckédou, Macenta, Kissidougou, Dabola, Djingaraye, Télimélé, Boffa, Kouroussa, Dubreka, Fria, Siguiri, Pita, Nzerekore, and Yamou; several are no longer active areas of EVD transmission (see map).
- The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia and WHO have reported 1082 suspect and confirmed EVD cases, including 269 laboratory-confirmed, and 624 deaths.
- The Nigerian Ministry of Health and WHO reported 16 suspect and confirmed cases, including 12 laboratory-confirmed, and 5 deaths.
- The Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone and WHO reported a cumulative total of 910 suspect and confirmed cases, including 804 laboratory-confirmed cases, and 392 deaths.
- Cases have been reported from all 12 Sierra Leone districts.
The CDC has drawn up an infographic on virus tracing: