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WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak an International Public Health Emergency
Aug 11, 2014

The World Health Organization urged nations worldwide to donate money and resources to stop the spread of Ebola as it declared the outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency.

The latest Ebola outbreak is the largest and longest ever recorded for the disease, which has a death rate of about 50 percent and has so far killed at least 961 people, according to the U.N. health agency. It emerged in Guinea in March this year and has since spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own. WHO urges the international community to provide support on the most urgent basis.

WHO said, the world’s collective health security depends on curbing the spread of the killer virus in West Africa, even as she acknowledged that many countries would probably not have any Ebola cases.

The Nigerian government declared a national state of emergency for Africa’s most populous nation, saying two Ebola patients have died and seven other cases were confirmed. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan approved spending $11.7 million to contain the disease and urged schools to extend a current holiday to give experts more time to assess the Ebola threat.

Since Ebola was first identified in 1976, there have been more than 20 outbreaks in central and eastern Africa; this is the first to affect West Africa. The virus causes symptoms including fever, vomiting, muscle pain and bleeding. It is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids like blood, sweat, urine, saliva and diarrhea.

The U.N. agency convened an expert committee meeting to assess the severity of the Ebola epidemic. The World Bank pledged up to $200 million in emergency funding to help the countries affected by Ebola and strengthen public health systems across West Africa. The European Union said it would chip in an additional 8 million euros ($10.7 million) to Ebola efforts and send a second mobile lab to help with diagnostics. USAID also announced it would invest an extra $12.45 million to support the fight against Ebola.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already warned Americans against traveling to West Africa due to the Ebola outbreak. The agency also put U.S. hospitals on alert for symptoms so they can spot potential cases.

WHO is in discussion process whether it’s ethical to use experimental Ebola treatments in the current outbreak. There is no licensed drug or treatment for Ebola and no evidence in people that the experimental treatments work.

WHO did not recommend any travel or trade bans, but said people who had close contact with Ebola patients should not travel internationally. For countries with Ebola, WHO issued various recommendations, including exit screening at international airports and border crossings to spot potential cases. It also discouraged mass gatherings. Countries without Ebola should heighten their surveillance and treat any suspected cases as a health emergency.


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