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Ebola Outbreak the Most Challenging So Far

April 9, 2014
Public Health

ebolaThe World Health Organisation (WHO) has admitted that the current outbreak of Ebola virus in Guinea and Liberia is the most challenging they have ever dealt with. So far the outbreak, the first of its type in western Africa, has killed 101 people in Guinea and 10 in Liberia. Cases have also been reported in Sierra Leone, Mali and Ghana but these have remained unconfirmed.

“We fully expect to be engaged with this outbreak for the next two to three to four months before we are comfortable that we are through it,” Keija Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general, said at a news briefing in Geneva (Reuters news agency reports). The current outbreak of the virus, which has no known cure and kills up to 90% of those infected, originated in the forests of south-eastern Guinea. The city of Guekedou, close to the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia, has seen the majority of deaths.

Ebola has an incubation period of up to 21 days, outbreaks only being declared over when there have been no transmissions for at least 42 days. The main routes of infection are direct contact with blood, feces and sweat. It can also be spread through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.

Until now experts including those from the US Centres for Disease Control have linked each case to a known source. The virus is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo where one of the first recorded outbreaks occurred in 1976.