Governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other international groups are fighting an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Oct. 25 that at least 4,922 people have died out of more than 10,141 cases of Ebola. WHO said the figures are believed to be higher than reported, and the number of cases may be closer to 15,000. So far, 244 healthcare workers have died.
WHO anticipates 5,000 to 10,000 new cases of Ebola per week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by December, according to its Asst. Director-General for Emergencies, Dr. Bruce Aylward. As of early October, the virus is spreading at around 1,000 cases per week.
A two-year-old girl in Mali who was reported to have contracted Ebola on Oct. 23 died on Oct. 24, according to Malian officials. She was the country's first case of Ebola and had recently traveled to Guinea.
More than 20 people were dying of Ebola per day in western Sierra Leone on the other side of the country where the first cases emerged, the government said Oct. 21. The number of new cases in the east had fallen, but it was "definitely too early to say it's been beaten there," WHO's country spokesperson said.
Nigeria is free from Ebola, the WHO said Oct. 20. The announcement came 42 days, or twice the incubation period, since the last case tested negative. The country employed GPS for tracing and mapping to identify chains of transmission, linking 19 confirmed cases to a July 20 air traveller from Liberia.
Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma announced drastic changes to his government's Ebola response Oct. 17. A new body, the National Ebola Response Center, will be established and led by defense minister Alfred Palo Conteh. NERC will report directly to the president and work alongside the UN response team.
An internal WHO document, obtained by AP, says "nearly everyone" involved in its Ebola response failed to anticipate the virus' spread. The organization blamed its own bureaucracy, politically motivated appointments, incompetent staff and a lack of information. WHO later said the document was a first draft that hadn't been fact-checked or reviewed.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf used her emergency powers Oct. 9 to suspend senatorial elections due to be held Oct. 14. The decision was taken to prevent traveling in the country worst hit by the Ebola crisis. Johnson-Sirleaf had been given the powers under a state of emergency declared in August.
Ebola, which has no vaccine, kills between 25% and 90% of people who contract it, depending on the strain. It is transmitted via unprotected contact with the bodily fluids of symptomatic people or corpses. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. Eight outbreaks have occurred since the virus was discovered in 1976.
A nurse in Madrid became the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa, Spanish health officials said Oct. 6. The nurse had treated a Spanish priest who died from Ebola in September. The nurse was admitted to the hospital with a high fever and is being kept in isolation.
Six Red Cross volunteers in southeastern Guinea were attacked Sept. 24 as they gathered bodies believed to be infected by Ebola. It was the latest in a series of attacks targeting health workers in West Africa, including an outburst of anger that left eight people dead in Guinea earlier in September.
Researchers say that current evidence indicates that "patient zero" in West Africa was a two-year-old whose mother, sister and grandma also died of symptoms consistent with an Ebola infection, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It's currently unclear how the boy may have been infected.
Copyright 2014 Reuters
At least 3,700 children have lost one or both parents due to Ebola and are now being shunned by their communities, UNICEF said Sept. 30. "Orphans are usually taken in by a member of the extended family, but in some communities, the fear surrounding Ebola is becoming stronger than family ties," the group said.
The World Bank on Oct. 8 released an estimate that efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak, and associated expenses, could cost African countries upwards of $30 billion by the end of 2015.
The UN food agency said in early Sept. that food prices have risen significantly in three countries most affected by the outbreak -- Liberia, Sierra Leone. Labor shortages have also harmed harvests. Countries thousands of miles away from the nearest Ebola-affected communities seen impacts to their tourism industries.