The on-going Ebola crisis is now the worst outbreak in history, having spread across at least three borders and having claimed the lives of at least 467 people. At least 763 people have contracted the virus, though the actual death toll and infection count could be much higher as many people have been avoiding medical treatment.
Doctors Without Borders trying to bring Ebola outbreak under control
Up until now, Doctors Without Borders has been the primary organization trying to bring the outbreak under control, but it appears that the World Health Organization is now looking to step in and coordinate efforts.
The World Health Organization has scheduled a meeting in Accra, Guinea with health officials from 11 different African countries. Besides Liberia, Sierre Leone, and Guinea, officials from the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, and Uganda will attend the meeting. Accra is one of the hardest hit cities and with a population of over 2 million, the crisis could get much worse
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People living in fear of Ebola
According to reports on the ground, Accra and other African cities have essentially ground to a halt. Many people are staying in doors and trying to limit contact with other people. Many people are also avoiding physically contact with other people by foregoing hand shakes and other physical gestures.
Officials in Ghana and elsewhere are also banning the sale and consumption of bats. These are a popular local delicacy, but it is believed that bats are also a vector for the disease. The exact origin of the disease remains unknown, though researchers know that it is a different strain than the ones that previously hit the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon.
At the end of the day, this may prove to be the most effective way to stop the spread Ebola. There is no cure for the virus, nor any vaccination. The only way to treat people is to provide liquids and other forms of supportive care, and to hope that their body is able to fight off the disease. The lack of any real treatment regime explains why more than half of all people who contract the disease end up dying.
Health officials under attack
Health officials are learning to tread lightly around locals. With so many people living in fear, suspicions of the World Health Organization and medical workers in general are boiling over into direct and sometimes violent confrontations.
The Red Cross had to suspend operations in southeast Guinea. Apparently, a group of men armed with machetes and other weapons surrounded a vehicle and threatened workers. Back in April, a Doctors Without Borders camp was attacked by youth who believed that the organization had brought the disease into the country.