Another deadly strain of Ebola has broken out, this time in West Africa. This strain of Ebola started in Guinea in February, and has spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and other neighboring areas.
So far, at least 224 infections and 137 deaths have been reported. Roughly 200 of these cases are in Guinea. Ebola causes the patient to bleed internally and externally, is highly contagious and there is no cure or vaccine available.
There is fear that the outbreak will soon turn into an epidemic, since it has already reached several areas.
This particular strain of Ebola is new, and was not imported from countries that have had Ebola outbreaks in the past.
These regions notoriously have weak health care systems, which could be especially dangerous when paired with the permeable borders of this region.
National authorities of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have responded by activating their prospective national emergency committees. The World Health Organization (WHO), Médécins Sans Frontiers and ministries of health have devoted a large amount of resources in building wards in efforts to control the outbreak.
A senior health ministry official of Guinea released on Thursday, April 17, that they will stop releasing the death toll in order to avoid causing “unnecessary panic.”
In efforts to contain this outbreak, airports in the regions affected and the regions near affected areas have enforced basic health checks at airports.
Senegal has made the decision to completely shut its land border with Guinea in order to prevent Ebola spread. The European Union recently increased its aid to those providing care to Ebola patients to $1.9 million. Canada also recently sent over $1.2 million in aid to control the disease.
Union student Duri Duri ’16, who is from Ethiopia, has his concerns regarding the outbreak. Duri said, “The fact that many people within the continent don’t have the medical resources to properly identify the disease creates a lot of issues, as it can be wrongly diagnosed as malaria or some other disease.
The fact that there isn’t a world cure just makes it worse. I’m from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and even though there hasn’t been a reported case of Ebola within the country, there is always a risk of its spread due to the interconnectivity of countries.”
It is possible for the outbreak to be contained: it is passed through person-to-person contact and is not airborne.
The best way to prevent spread would be to ban travel and close all borders, but this has an economic impact on the surrounding countries and is also discouraged by WHO.
At this point, international aid is a necessity to stop the potential epidemic.
In an area that has little money and poor health care systems, additional economic support may be a lifesaver for many.