WEST AFRICA – Yet another doctor has recently tested positive for the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced, bringing the total number of infected doctors to four. This was announced weeks after the first doctors to be infected were transported to America for treatment. Ebola is only transmitted through direct human-to-human contact making the risk of infection for healthcare workers especially high. The three doctors sick with the virus that returned to America for treatment have since seen rapid recovery due to the constant care they now have access to.
The areas affected by the Ebola Virus.
The current spread of Ebola in west Africa has marked the first official outbreak for the region, and is one of the largest outbreaks of the virus in history, according to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). The disease is devastating the citizens of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as the doctors treating them. The hemorrhagic virus is spreading rapidly with an alarming fatality rate of 90%.
The risk of the disease spreading to other parts of the world remains low, however, as the outbreak is localized primarily to western Africa. Only an individual who has already been infected can spread the disease. Those who are of the highest risk of contracting Ebola are healthcare workers and family members of infected patients.
As of September 6, the total number of cases in West African countries had risen to 4,293 and the suspected death toll to 2,296, according to the WHO. However, these numbers only reflect the cases that are officially confirmed as Ebola. “We know that the numbers are underestimated. We are currently working to estimate the underestimation,” the director of the WHO’s department of pandemic and epidemic diseases, Sylvie Briand, said at a news briefing in Geneva.
There is no current Ebola vaccine and patients only recover if they receive constant and immediate treatment.
An overview of ebola symptoms
West African villages where the outbreak has originated lack the proper medical structures to combat such a fast-spreading and deadly disease. The key to treating the virus lies in a supportive medical system. The American patients that are recovering are only doing so because of the round-the-clock monitoring and care they receive from both nurses and doctors. Until West Africa can receive the same level of medical care, the virus will only continue to spread, leaving devastation in its wake.
“It is a war against this virus. It’s a very difficult war. What we try now is to win some battles at least in some places,” Briand said.