The Ebola outbreak that likely started in December 2013 with the death of a 2 year old child in Guéckédou, Guinea, has become the deadliest in history. The most recent report, almost a week old now, from the World Health Organisation puts the number of cases at 964 with 603 deaths. The outbreak has spread from Guinea to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone; between the 8th and 12th of July alone there were 30 new cases and 13 deaths in Liberia and 49 new cases and 52 deaths in Sierra Leone.
Key to controlling the outbreak is stopping transmission. This means getting infected people into treatment centres, isolating those who have been in contact with anyone infected, and ensuring that everyone has the knowledge and equipment to protect themselves while looking after the infected and burying the dead.
Reporter Alex Crawford recently went to Liberia and showed the precautions people have to go take to ensure they don’t become infected – the donning of a vast amount of PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – which must be almost unbearable to wear in the heat of west Africa. You can watch her report below – although the part where they shove the camera in an infected nurse’s face and ask her how she is feeling is pretty distasteful. She is extremely ill with Ebola and has about a 30-40% chance of surviving, and if she does survive, will be stigmatised for life. How would you feel, Alex?!
As an aside, it was disgusting to see Republican congressman Phil Gingrey suggest that migrant children arriving at the US’s southwestern border could introduce Ebola into America. Here’s an extract from the letter he wrote to the CDC:
“As you know, the United States is currently experiencing a crisis at our southern border. The
influx of families and unaccompanied children at the border poses many risks, including grave public health threats. …. reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus, and tuberculosis are particularly concerning. …..Reports have indicated that several border agents have contracted diseases through contact with the unaccompanied minors. As the unaccompanied children continue to be transported to shelters around the country on commercial airlines and other forms of transportation, I have serious concerns that the diseases carried by these children may begin to spread too rapidly to control. In fact, as you undoubtedly know, some of these diseases have no known cure.”
My previous Ebola FAQ can be found here.