One year into Ebola

One year after the first Ebola cases started to surface in Guinea, WHO is out with a report that takes an in-depth look at the disease

GN Bureau | January 19, 2015



(Photo: WHO)

Damaged public health infrastructures, severe shortage of health care workers, cultural beliefs and behavioural practices and community resistance are some of the factors that contributed to undetected spread of Ebola virus and helped it stay hidden.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a 14-chapter report ‘One year into Ebola epidemic’ on January 15.

The report says that prior to the outbreaks; the three countries had a ratio of only one to two doctors per nearly 100,000 population. The meagre workforce further diminished by the unprecedented number of health care workers infected during the outbreaks. Nearly 700 health care workers were infected by year end and more than half of them had died.

Apart from highlighting factors contributing the spread of the disease, warnings the world ignored and key events including the 9 August declaration of an international health emergency, the report also focuses on how West Africa’s epidemic has evolved over the past year, giving special attention to the situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. It also contains the success stories in Senegal, Nigeria and Mali.

The 14th chapter of the report talks lessons learnt from 2014 and what needs to be done in 2015.

Read full report here

What happened in India

Keeping in view some 45,000 indians settled in West Africa, officials in India had screened thousands of passengers travelling from Ebola-hit West Africa. In fact, a man who cured of Ebola in Liberia (but continued to show traces of the virus in samples of his semen) was quarantined at Delhi aiport after arriving in the country. The health ministery that the man was tested negative for Ebola under WHO guidelines, but was been quarantined as a precautionary measure. Some 25 airports in the country were put on alert and screening the passengers.



Key Facts:

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.

 

  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

 

  • The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.

   

  • The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.

     

  • Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.

   

  • There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but 2 potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.

 
 

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