West Africa’s Ebola Epidemic Is Out of Control

(Photo courtesy Reach Beyond)
(Photo courtesy Reach Beyond)

Ebola. The mere mention of the virus plague creates dread because it’s a losing battle once it appears.

When you add the word epidemic to Ebola, it sends alarm and panic skittering through the international community.

That’s exactly what’s happening in West Africa now. An outbreak is cascading out of control in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau, leaving a trail of death and putting entire communities at risk.

In response to continuing reports of new cases and deaths attributable to Ebola virus disease (EVD), the World Health Organization (WHO) activated a Sub-regional Outbreak Coordination Center on 16 July 2014 in Guinea.

As of five days ago, the cumulative number of cases attributed to EVD in the Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone stands at 964, including 603 deaths. It’s also not connected to the earlier outbreak in Uganda and Congo. According to the Associated Press, it’s linked to the human consumption of bats carrying the virus.

WHO records show the virus first appeared in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and authorities think it was originally spread by fruit bats. Gorillas, chimpanzees, forest antelopes, and porcupines can also spread the virus. Reach Beyond Wayne Pederson says, “People travel freely across the borders, and that’s how it is spread. We anticipated sending a mobile medical team this summer into Monrovia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, that part of the world. We just decided not to because of the danger involved.”

Even though they decided not to send a mobile medical team in, he adds, “We do have one person on the ground that just reported yesterday that the Ebola virus is expanding throughout all of Liberia.”

Pederson goes on to say, “Kathy Mazzella, who is a nurse, is going with a team to some of the other facilities in Monrovia, helping to train new nurses since this is quite new to the people there.”

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Ruth Kramer

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