Friday, August 15, 2014

Ebola Brings More Deaths


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Another victim, this time in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Photo: Tommy Trenchard/New York Times

The Ebola epidemic continues to spread. Already it has moved beyond Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea and it has infected Nigeria. Neighboring countries like Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin are casting anxious glances.
As at Wednesday, it has claimed 1,069 lives, according to WHO. This is the deadliest outbreak since the disease was discovered in 1976.  

The World Health Organization has declared an International Public Health Emergency. Governments in Ebola-strickened countries have put in place tighter border controls, deployed troops and police to impose quarantines on badly affected communities, and other drastic measures
The contagion has overwhelmed these countries’ health infrastructure and most health facilities lack sufficient staff or resources to address the continuing transmission of Ebola.
Even as Ebola is on the rampage, nurses, doctors and specialists on the virus have been putting themselves on the front line and taking huge personal risks. The WHO says more than 100 healthcare personnel have been infected and half have died tending to the infected.

Two Thursdays ago, the US of A had ordered families of its diplomats in Liberia to leave. And it warned against non-essential travel to the country. Yesterday, it was reported that the same directive was issued for Sierra Leone.

On Monday, Liberia said it is receiving doses of an experimental drug to give to two doctors. The doctors will be the first Africans treated with ZMapp, which has been used on two American missionaries now recovering in USA and a Spanish priest who has died. The WHO has backed the use of the drug to treat the current crisis, but its maker says stocks are extremely limited.
Although in another report, Mapp Biopharmaceutical had claimed it had exhausted its supply of ZMapp. Supposedly, there are other treatments in the pipeline. But the makers of ZMapp have said it takes months to create more, a process that involves growing humanized mouse antibodies in tobacco leaves.
In the meantime, Death will knock on many doors.

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