Ebola virus disease (EVD), also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is one of the most virulent viral diseases known to man. Ebola causes fever, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and internal bleeding. There are no drugs or vaccines approved to treat or prevent the illness, though several experimental treatments are being explored.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest Ebola outbreak in history. As of this writing, the number of cases has increased to 3,069, with 1,552 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned this week that as many as 20,000 people could be infected before the outbreak comes to an end.
A Guinean man, age 21, is the first to test positive for the virus in Senegal. According to a Bloomberg report, the patient had been on vacation in Senegal. He had had contact with Ebola patients in Guinea, but hid the fact from authorities. He is reportedly in quarantine at Fann Hospital in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
Virus Appears in Democratic Republic of Congo
According to the WHO, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reported the death of a pregnant woman from Ikanamongo Village. The woman had butchered a bush animal that her husband had killed and given to her. She became ill with symptoms of EVD and reported to a private clinic in Isaka Village.
Between July 28 and August 18, she is believed to have transmitted the disease to 24 people, including healthcare workers. Thirteen deaths have been identified. The strain of Ebola affecting patients in DRC is a different strain than the one spreading through West Africa.
Riots Break Out in Guinea
The Ebola crisis has also led to riots in the Guinean city of Nzerekore. The Toronto Sun reports that the riots started as a result of rumors that health workers had infected people with the Ebola virus. Gunshots were fired and several people were injured.
In another major development, the WHO issued a roadmap to scale up the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The WHO stated on its website, “The aim is to stop ongoing Ebola transmission worldwide within six to nine months, while rapidly managing the consequences of any further international spread. It also recognizes the need to address, in parallel, the outbreak’s broader socioeconomic impact."
Commenting on the WHO's roadmap, Doctors Without Borders director of operations Brice de le Vingne issued a statement: “The WHO roadmap is welcome, but it should not give a false sense of hope. Huge questions remain about who will implement the elements in the plan. Who has the correct training for the variety of tasks that are detailed? How long will it take to train organizations to set up and run an Ebola management center? How long before any new centers become operational? Who will undertake the vitally important health education, contact tracing, and safe burials in the affected communities?"
Cuts in Air Service Hamper Medical Teams
The Wall Street Journal on August 28 reported de le Vingne as expressing real concern about a reduction in air service to the affected countries. He noted that the reduction in flights on major airlines is affecting efforts to get medical teams and supplies to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
In another development, the Associated Press reports that college students from Africa about to begin the fall term studying in the United States are likely to be given additional health checks for Ebola and asked questions about their health.
Finally, United States health officials have indicated that the first human trials of an experimental Ebola vaccine will start next week. Other trials are expected to follow.