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Ebola epidemic worst in years

Ebola virus ravages West Africa

April 14, 2014

More than 100 people have died from Ebola in the West African countries Guinea and Liberia, the World health organization has said. International aid organizations try to stop the disease from spreading further.

It’s been three weeks since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa made headlines. The first cases in Guinea’s remote south were reported in February- a few weeks later, the epidemic has reached the capital, Conakry.

Doctors at an airport in Guinea, West Africa, have been fighting to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

It’s the worst outbreak in years.

The virus causes fever, vomiting and external and internal bleeding. It has about a 90 percent fatality rate. There is no known cure.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the West Africa Ebola outbreak as one of the “most challenging” incidents the world has ever seen. So far, Guinea has counted close to 160 suspected cases of Ebola; more than 100 people have died from the disease. In neighboring Liberia, there have been 10 fatalities so far, with 21 infections linked to the disease.

Around 65 percent of those infected don’t survive the virus, said WHO spokesman Tarik Jasaevic. There is no vaccine or cure. It’s crucial to quickly detect an infection- also to stop the disease from spreading any further, Jaserevic added.

Tim Jagatic, a physician from the international medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said patients who sought medical help in the early stages of the disease, had better chances of survival. “When a patient comes early, approaches us early within the disease then we have seen better outcomes. Other factors such as level of inoculation of the disease, which means how much of the virus they were exposed to is also a factor,” said Jagatic.

So far, Ebola outbreaks have only been recorded in Central Africa, such as in Sudan, Congo or Uganda. The disease was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo where it was discovered in 1976. According to the WHO, there have been 15 epidemics in Africa killing more than 1,300.

Some West African countries have closed their borders in an effort to curtail the spread of Ebola. But measures such as closing borders and restricting travel “don’t make sense.” According to the WHO. A more effective way to contain the spread of the disease is for people to avoid close contact with patients already sickened with it, the WHO says.

But this hasn’t stopped Senegal from shutting part of its border or Ivory Coast form barring busses from Liberia and Guinea.

Inadequate health care and a shortage of doctors have made fighting the disease more difficult.

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