“Drastic action” needed: Worst-ever Ebola outbreak continues to wreak havoc in West Africa

The "out of control" outbreak is the largest and most widespread on record

Topics: ebola, West Africa, public health, guinea, doctors without borders, , ,

"Drastic action" needed: Worst-ever Ebola outbreak continues to wreak havoc in West Africa (Credit: CDC)

The Ebola outbreak deemed “totally out of control” by a public health official last week continues to take a deadly toll across West Africa, the World Health Organization reports. A total of 399 people have died across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the agency said in a statement, and at least 635 cases have been reported, making the outbreak “the largest in terms of the number of cases and deaths as well as geographical spread.”

“This is no longer a country-specific outbreak but a sub-regional crisis that requires firm action by governments and partners,” Luis Sambo, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said. “WHO is gravely concerned of the ongoing cross-border transmission into neighboring countries as well as the potential for further international spread.”



The numbers seem small, compared to other epidemics, but there are a number of reasons why the Ebola outbreak has public health officials particularly worried. There’s no vaccine for the Ebola virus, meaning that health workers need to prevent people from getting it in the first place. The outbreak, however, is widespread: crossing borders and popping up in crowded urban centers, complicating efforts to identify and contain potential cases. Misinformation and stigma abounds among potential victims, sometimes preventing them from receiving proper care. And the governments of the affected countries appeared unprepared to deal with the outbreak, lacking the proper health systems needed to effectively contain and control it.

Relief doesn’t appear immediately forthcoming, said Francis Kasolo, the WHO’s director of disease prevention and control for Africa: “We still think we have another three to four months to go with the epidemic, but the duration will be influenced by how national governments and affected communities respond.”

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...