It is easy to lose in the shuffle of one sensational news report after another, the lesser known fact that the Ebola virus silently rages on. Wreaking havoc on multiple continents but primarily Africa, the virus continues to spread while health officials still remain steps behind on containment. It is reported that the virus has affected six countries including the United States of America, Spain, and Mali, as well as Nigeria and Senegal.
Ebola related deaths in West Africa are still on the rise with more than 500 new cases and 63 deaths in the ravished Sierra Leone, last week. The rate of infection however has been slowing in Liberia, hardest hit by the virus.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that nearly 5,500 people have died from the virus. Transmission, mostly concentrated in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia remain intense but in Liberia no longer is there a dramatic increase. According to Dr. Thomas R. Frieden the rate of infection has decreased in Liberia.
Also on Friday, the WHO claimed that the Democratic Republic of Congo was free from the disease after the nation went 42 days, double the virus’ incubation period, without a new case reported. The outbreak in the Congo killed a reported 49 people and is separate from the West African outbreak.
The Ebola virus reared its head back in December 2013 in West Africa. Once known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, it is a virus that is severe and oftentimes fatal with a mortality rate reaching up to 90 percent. Symptoms include a sudden fever, sore throat, severe weakness, muscular pain, followed by bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, impaired liver and kidney functions and some cases internal and/or external bleeding.
A Cuban doctor, currently in a Swiss hospital, is reported to be in stable condition after several days of treatment. It is said that he contracted the virus while working in Sierra Leone. Dr. Felix Baez Sarria flew to Geneva and was able to walk off the transport plane under his own strength.
Silently, Ebola has raged on hopping from one continent to the next. Two travelers returning separately to the United States from West Africa tested negative for the Ebola virus in New York and Missouri but will remain under observation, according to officials. The patient in New York returned from a trip to Mali which borders Guinea, one of the nations worst hit by the virus. There have been six reported deaths in Mali, per the WHO. The patient remains isolated at Bellevue Hospital Center to undergo more testing.
The second patient tested negative as well, but was being kept isolated at an offsite surgical facility. The hospital stated that the patient had a low risk for the virus but wanted to keep the patient isolated as a precaution. She would be tested Saturday night if symptoms of the virus were still visible, according to Mercy Jefferson Hospital. The hospital did advise that tests for the flu, malaria and other diseases would be conducted, as well. Local media in the area report the patient to be a nurse, although that has not been confirmed by the hospital at this time.
The Times of India has reported an individual has been quarantined at the Delhi airport health facility after testing positive twice. The 26 year old Indian was supposedly treated and cured of the virus in Liberia. His blood samples have repeatedly come back clean but traces of the virus did show in his semen.
While mid-term elections and now immigration claiming the latest news headlines followed by the Bill Cosby sex scandal, a silent war rages on to contain Ebola. Containment and treatment is behind but slowly the fight against the virus is turning. This week President Barack Obama pitched to top health officials his proposed $6.2 billion funding to fight the virus.
By Stevenson Benoit
Photo by European Commission DG – Flickr License