Ebola crisis in West Africa deepens

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
By Paul Martin

Krista Larson
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DAKAR, Senegal – Deep in the forests of southern Guinea, the first victims fell ill with high fevers. People assumed it was the perennial killer malaria and had no reason to fear touching the bodies, as is the custom in traditional funerals. Some desperate relatives brought their loved ones to the distant capital in search of better medical care, unknowingly spreading what ultimately was discovered to be Ebola, one of the world’s most deadly diseases.

Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever that can cause its victims to bleed from the ears and nose, had never before been seen in this part of West Africa where medical clinics are few and far between. This year, the disease has turned up in at least two other countries – Liberia and Sierra Leone – and 539 deaths have been attributed to the outbreak that is now the largest on record.

The key to halting Ebola is isolating the sick, but fear and panic have sent some patients into hiding, complicating efforts to stop its spread. Ebola has reached the capitals of all three countries.

There has been “a gross misjudgment . . . in gauging the severity and scale of damage the current Ebola outbreak can unleash,” the aid group Plan International warned this month. “There are no cases from outside Africa to date. The threat of it spreading, though, is very much there,” said Unni Krishnan, the group’s head of disaster preparedness and response.

Activists are trying to spread awareness in the countryside where literacy is low.

The Rest…HERE

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