WHO Issues Update on Ebola Situation

West African Ebola outbreak continues to outpace response

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Earlier this week, President Obama announced US troop assistance to curb the spread of Ebola in West Africa. But even as more international partners offer their support, cases of infection continue to rise.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) released an update on the Ebola situation in West Africa — and there are few signs of any lasting reduction in Ebola cases.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone remain the countries where Ebola is most widespread. In just the last 21 days, these three countries have had more than 2,000 likely new cases.

The WHO update highlights the need for more Ebola treatment centers, as well as the alarming number of health care workers who have been infected.

"Stay informed about the current Ebola outbreak."

Ebola infection can lead to Ebola virus disease. The main symptoms of Ebola virus disease are fever and severe bleeding.

As of Sept. 14, there have been 3,075 confirmed cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with the bulk of those cases in Sierra Leone. After adding in the probable and suspected cases, these countries may have had more than 5,300 cases so far. More than an estimated 2,600 people have died from Ebola virus disease.

Nigeria and Senegal have also been affected by the outbreak but to a much lesser extent than the three hardest hit countries.

WHO reports that there is a shortage of Ebola treatment center beds. In Liberia, for instance, there are a total of 315 treatment beds, which meets less than 20 percent of the demand. The Liberian capital of Monrovia needs 1,210 beds but has only 240.

According to the WHO update, "Infections among health care workers are a particularly alarming feature of this outbreak."

The agency noted that 318 health care workers have developed Ebola virus disease, and nearly half of them have died.

"WHO is working to ensure the safest conditions possible for staff deployed to the field and any health care workers providing care to patients with Ebola," the agency wrote.

WHO also outlined its continuing efforts to provide safe burials of the dead and to inform communities on ways to address this outbreak.

Among the strategies mentioned in the update, WHO said it is training teams that will be going to millions of homes "to listen to community concerns, provide appropriate knowledge about Ebola transmission, prevention, care and treatment, and to encourage families to take sick patients to treatment or observation facilities."

Currently, there are no proven treatments or vaccines for Ebola. However, treatment and vaccine studies are underway.

Review Date: 
September 18, 2014
Last Updated:
October 8, 2014