Regional Ebola response centre to be set up in Guinea

July 11, 2014

A regional centre is being set up in Guinea to coordinate the response to the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola that has killed hundreds of people in west Africa, the World Health Organisation said Friday.

The virus, a form of haemorrhagic fever, has swept through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone leaving an estimated 539 people dead, according to the latest WHO figures.

Tracking and treating the disease has been a challenge as rural populations are often highly mistrustful of foreign doctors and fail to follow their advice.

Traditional practices, which include touching the bodies of the dead at funerals, have also contributed to its spread.

"The sub-regional centre will be responsible for ensuring effective use and deployment of limited and scarce, but highly critical resources, based on prioritisation and agreed objectives," the WHO said in a statement.

It has not recommended any travel or trade restrictions be applied to the three countries.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, warned at the end of June that the outbreak was "out of control", with more than 60 hotspots.

On Friday, it said it feared there could be an increase in cases in the coming weeks in Sierra Leone, where more than 150 of its staff are on the ground.

"We're under massive time pressure: the longer it takes to find and follow up with people who have come in contact with sick people, the more difficult it will be to control the outbreak," said MSF emergency coordinator Anja Wolz.

"We still have no idea how many villages are affected. I'm afraid we've only seen the tip of the iceberg," she said in a statement.

The largest number of new cases and deaths attributed to Ebola and reported this week came out of Sierra Leone, where another 32 people fell sick and 15 died.

In total, Sierra Leone has seen 337 cases of Ebola and 142 deaths, while Liberia has had 142 cases, 88 of whom have died.

In Guinea, the country most badly hit by the outbreak, the WHO said Friday that transmission appeared to have slowed, with only one new case reported in the past week.

A total of 309 people are now confirmed or suspected to have died of Ebola in the west African nation where the epidemic broke out in February.

Both MSF and the UN health agency have said the outbreak is expected to continue for several months.

'Rumours and denial'

UNICEF said on Friday that widespread misconception about the disease and "occasional hostility" to health workers was also impacting their ability to contain the outbreak.

"Rumours and denial are fuelling the spread of Ebola and putting even more lives at risk," said Manuel Fontaine, the charity's regional director for west and central Africa.

"Some people still deny that the disease is real. Others believe that it doesn't have to be treated."

Ebola is a form of haemorrhagic fever, which has several species, and can be deadly in up to 90 percent of cases.

It can fell victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhoea—and in some cases, organ failure and unstoppable bleeding.

The virus is believed to be carried by animals hunted for meat, notably bats.

It spreads among humans via bodily fluids including sweat, so can be spread by simply touching an infected person. With no vaccine, patients believed to have caught the virus have to be isolated to prevent further contagion.

The outbreak is the first in west Africa, and the largest since Ebola first emerged in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Explore further: Sierra Leone reports two Ebola deaths, 12 cases

Related Stories

Risk of Ebola spread in west Africa, WHO warns

June 28, 2014

The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.

Recommended for you

Bile acid uptake inhibitor prevents NASH / fatty liver in mice

September 21, 2016

Drugs that interfere with bile acid recycling can prevent several aspects of NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) in mice fed a high-fat diet, scientists from Emory University School of Medicine and Children's Healthcare of ...

New therapeutic target for Crohn's disease

September 20, 2016

Research from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies a promising new target for future drugs to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The study, published today in Cell Reports, also indicates ...

Mosquitoes, Zika and biotech regulation

September 19, 2016

In a new Policy Forum article in Science, NC State professor Jennifer Kuzma argues that federal authorities are missing an opportunity to revise outdated regulatory processes not fit for modern innovations in biotechnology, ...

Arthritis drug may help with type of hair loss

September 22, 2016

(HealthDay)—For people who suffer from a condition that causes disfiguring hair loss, a drug used for rheumatoid arthritis might regrow their hair, a new, small study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.