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Ebola outbreak: 'The situation is not out of hand' says WHO medical official

Just days after an official from the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak was "out of control", a medical official from the World Health Organization (WHO) says,“The situation is not out of hand".

This scanning electron micrograph (SEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphologic features displayed by the Ebola virus discovered from the Ivory Coast of Africa (1995)
Charles Humphrey/CDC

Dr.Pierre Formenty with the United Nations health agency said Friday, “WHO has been supporting the three affected countries and their Ministries of Health staff, and are working with them on a daily basis to try to contain the outbreak.”

The current EVD outbreak that has affected 599 people and killed 338 (approximately 56 percent fatality rate) in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since early this year has been called "unprecedented" in terms of geographical distribution and the numbers of cases and deaths by the MSF.

Dr. Formenty does say there are challenges with this current outbreak, tweeting Friday, "We need to change behavior to stop Ebola transmission. Traditional burial practice is still an issue."

In addition, Formenty notes, “To be effective, WHO has to continue a dialogue with the population, the affected families and the patients to make them understand the mode of transmission of the disease".

The WHO medical officer also warned the neighboring countries in West Africa as the virus has the potential to spread. "We want other countries in West Africa to be ready - bordering countries, Ivory Coast, Mali, Guinea Bissau - to prepare themselves," Al Jazeera reported Saturday.

WHO does not recommend trade and travel restrictions at this point, in fact Dr. Formenty says that could make the outbreak worse as people would go into hiding.

In response to the outbreak, WHO will be convening a special meeting of Ministers of Health of eleven countries and partners involved in the Ebola outbreak response next week in Ghana to discuss a "comprehensive response plan" in an effort to interrupt further spread of the Ebola virus in the shortest possible time.