Africare Responds to the Ebola Outbreak

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 it 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 (NYTimes), 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.

International support is necessary to contain the virus and save lives. Africare is sending badly needed Personal Protective Equipment to keep health care workers safe and developing campaigns to educate the population on behaviors they can follow to keep their families healthy. Please help West Africa overcome Ebola by clicking here to give.

Efforts to contain the virus continue as cases and deaths keep rising. As of August 11, the total suspected Ebola cases across Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria stands at 1,975 with 1,069 deaths attributed to the virus (WHO).

There are still zero cases in the neighboring countries of Guinea Bissau and Cote d’Ivoire, and these nations have established border restrictions to prevent the virus from entering. All main entry points between Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are officially closed, and Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority is enforcing a ban on bushmeat, a culturally difficult prohibition meant to eliminate one source of the virus (United Nations Mission in Liberia).

A crucial tactic in overcoming Ebola is diligently tracing infected individuals and the people they come into contact with. Liberia’s contact tracing efforts are now underway, and in Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, 94-98% of Ebola case contacts are being identified and followed-up (WHO).

After a request by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia will receive shipments of the experimental drug ZMAPP which was administered to United States citizens infected with Ebola (BBC). The medication is untested on humans, and there are legitimate ethical and scientific factors to consider (CBS NEWS). However, an expert WHO panel agreed that “unregistered interventions” are acceptable during this crisis if criteria like informed consent, transparency and respect for the person involved are fulfilled.

Confident that Ebola can be controlled, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently emphasized the importance of addressing the shortage of medical professionals and protective equipment on the ground. To help Africare send a second shipment of more than $525,000 in medical supplies to protect frontline health care workers, click here to donate now.

The Ebola outbreak is now affecting four countries, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria (ABC NEWS). As of August 4, the death toll is 932 with 1,711 confirmed cases, both increases from the 672 deaths and 1,201 cases at the time of Africare’s last weekly update (WHO). Experts at the World Health Organization are now discussing whether or not to declare a global health emergency (BBC), and the likelihood that infections and deaths will continue to escalate is high.

Many locals are skeptical about the nature of Ebola and doubt the public health messages coming from their governments. This means that the actual numbers of deaths and infections may be higher than WHO’s official statistics because people may not report Ebola cases to the authorities (CBS NEWS). Also, during burials in the region family members wash the bodies of their dead loved ones, exposing the previously healthy participants to the virus. These burials are a significant factor perpetuating Ebola’s spread, but people are reluctant to abandon their traditional practice.

Global fears are growing with reports of international infections. Two Americans infected while working in West Africa are now being treated in Atlanta, Georgia, and a man in Saudi Arabia reportedly died with Ebola-like symptoms after traveling home from Sierra Leone (BBC). However, experts at the CDC are working to assure U.S. citizens that Ebola is only transmitted through direct contact with contaminated bodily fluids and therefore does not pose a significant risk in the United States (ValueWalk).

Right now, health care workers treating Ebola sufferers are in danger of infection, and local beliefs are not conducive to containing the virus. Africare is shipping more than $525,000 in Personal Protective Equipment to help health care workers treat patients safely, and we are also developing Social and Behavior Change Communication programming to educate local populations on the disease and how they can keep themselves and their neighbors healthy.

You may not be at risk of contracting Ebola, but it is within your power to save lives from it. Please help Africare save lives and prevent transmission by clicking here to give now.

The deadliest Ebola outbreak ever recorded has worsened. The number of confirmed cases in West Africa has surpassed 1,200, the latest official death toll is 672 (World Health Organization), and the risk of its spread to other countries in Africa and globally has grown more apparent. A Liberian man died recently of Ebola in Lagos, Nigeria (The Guardian), the country's most populated city, and two Americans supporting health efforts in Liberia have also contracted the virus (CBS NEWS).

Local governments are taking action to curb Ebola's spread. Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea will meet to hold cross-border Ebola prevention meetings ( Liberia is restricting movement in and out of the country with  preventative protocols where the borders remain open (Reuters), and airlines servicing the region are likewise restricting some air travel (The Guardian).

Containment efforts are increasing, but the resources of local authorities are limited. Annual health care budgets of the affected countries benefit from significant international support generally, and support is sorely needed now.

The front-line of the fight against Ebola is held by health care workers, who expose themselves to the risk of infection and death to treat those affected, and several have died already. Ebola cannot be contained if health care workers cannot perform their duties safely. Africare is shipping more than $525,000 of medical supplies to support local health care workers in their heroic efforts. We need your help to do more for them.

Please click here to donate now.

According to the latest assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ebola virus is spreading out of control across West Africa, with cases currently impacting Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. As of July 16, 2014, more than 600 people have died and many more are infected. Ebola can kill up to 90% of its victims, and the current outbreak is already the worst ever recorded.

Symptoms of Ebola often resemble symptoms for less deadly diseases like malaria, but after what is typically a 21 day incubation period, Ebola causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea. First detected in then Zaire, now Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the mid-1970s, Ebola is spread through contact with blood and bodily fluids of infected people or animals.