June 23, 2014

Outbreak of Ebola virus epidemic kills over 300 as WHO convenes summit

 

Ebola virus in West Africa claiming  hundreds of lives
Ebola virus in West Africa claiming hundreds of lives

There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola which kills up to 90 percent of infected people depending on the strain of the virus they contract.

Fear and panic have accompanied its spread in West Africa which has concentrated the minds of health officials in the three affected countries.

Guinea, where the virus first emerged, is the worst affected with more than 260 Ebola-related deaths, while there have been around 50 deaths in Sierra Leone and about 25 in Liberia.

Liberia recently reported the first deaths stemming from the virus in its capital city Monrovia.

For those affected by Ebola, the symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.

John Oxford, a professor of virology at Queen Mary College, explains the origins of the virus.

Oxford says Ebola is not airborne so it can only be caught by touching someone with it and not washing your hands afterwards.

Or being exposed to an infected person’s bodily fluids is another way of contracting it.

Oxford adds it’s extremely unpleasant to have or look at someone with the virus and its best tackled by social distancing – keeping away from someone with it.

He sums up the significance of the efforts of foreign aid agencies and other organizations in the affected countries.

Jeanne Kamara is based in Sierra Leone and is the country manager for Christian Aid’s work to help combat the Ebola virus.

She is part of a team of around 20 staff and the charity works with about ten partner organizations throughout the country.

Kamara says one of the key aspects of their work is informing people on matters like hygiene and handling dead bodies, and the challenges that raises.

Kamara adds that for any individual who contracts the virus the consequences can be devastating not only in a clinical sense but also socially.

She says people suspected of having Ebola are often ostracized or their families run away from them and they can be left to fester and die.

There are also other aspects to Christian Aid’s work as Kamara explains.

Everybody in West Africa and beyond will be hoping that this outbreak of the Ebola virus can be brought to an end very soon.

 

 

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