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Ebola outbreak in west Africa is out of control, worst in history

Ebola parasite
Ebola parasite
Ebola Image by CDC Public Health Image Library at Wikimedia Commons

The Ebola outbreak in western African nations is the worst in history, is spreading fast and there is no containment so far. The current outbreak started four months ago in the town of Gueckedou in Guinea. It spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. The virulent parasitical disease also threatens Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Gambia. Words like "grave concern," "drastic action," and "deadliest on record" are being used. According to a June 30 Delaware Online article, 635 cases are reported and 367 fatalities have resulted from the outbreak.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa has put the situation in the gravest terms, saying,

"This is no longer a country-specific outbreak but a sub-regional crisis that requires firm action by governments and partners,”

The WHO plans to meet with health ministers from the affected or threatened nations on Wednesday and Thursday in Accra, Ghana. Somehow, they intend to to agree on a plan to control the outbreak.

Of primary concern is a porous three-nation border area where Guinea, Liberia and Serra Leone citizens travel back and forth freely in isolated, rural areas. As with any disease outbreak, the number of reported and confirmed cases could easily represent a much larger outbreak of Ebola.

There is no easy control or even a vaccine for Ebola. The death rate from this parasitical process is usually at 90 percent.

According to a June 29 PBS News report, only 150 doctors and scientists are in the region, mostly from Doctors Without Borders. They are so overwhelmed that they cannot respond to areas where new outbreaks are occurring. There are problems are with patients leaving or being too afraid to come to hospitals. There is cross border contamination and continuing practices that help spread the disease.

Desperate, but unsafe burial practices, rituals, and other hygiene issues are other major factors. There is no vaccine for Ebola and there is no cure. To add to the problems, there is strong resistance to anything western medicine and culture have to offer. That is understandable, given the centuries of deadly western and middle eastern adventurism in West Africa.

Local health workers face suspicion to the point where the people like youths in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, burned drugs and other supplies. Patients and their families are afraid to report their cases or to go to the hospitals, as described in a July 1 AllAfrica report.

The epidemic is expected to die out in three to four months, but at the current rate, many more will become ill and die from the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. This is why a total of 11 nations in the region are asked to attend the meeting with the WHO in Accra.