The World Health Organization announced that as of August 16, the outbreak’s total suspected Ebola cases is 2,240 with 1,229 deaths attributed to the virus (WHO). Although there are reports of numerous Ebola case “scares” around the world and in the United States (ABC NEWS), confirmed cases have only originated in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, where figures steadily increase.
The prospect of Ebola drugs has caused much conversation as two Americans and now three Liberians who received experimental treatment are fending off the disease (ABC NEWS). Researchers at the United States National Institutes of Health are also working on a vaccine that they hope will be available in 2015 after fast-tracking toward human clinical trials (LA Times).
However, action must be taken to protect frontline health care workers and to educate citizens on how they can keep themselves and their communities safe. A mixture of public misunderstandings, fear of the virus, and continued denial in other groups that Ebola even exists has resulted in continued transmission, tragic instances of people infected and survivors being ostracized (NY Times), and occasional violence directed toward health workers and facilities (Newsweek).
Local authorities continue struggling to control the outbreak, with governments pursuing increasingly severe restrictions such as the curfew instituted in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia (ABC NEWS). Not only is Ebola taking lives, the outbreak is also damaging health care systems, affecting school systems, disrupting businesses and more.