West Africa Ebola toll tops 600: WHO

The death toll in West Africa's Ebola outbreak has risen to 603, the World Health Organization (WHO)) said on Tuesday, with 68 new fatalities mostly in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The UN health agency said the new deaths were recorded between July 8 and 12, and that 52 of them were in Sierra Leone, 13 in Liberia and three in Guinea, which had previously borne the brunt of the outbreak.

The WHO issues regular updates on the outbreak, which is the first ever in west Africa and the deadliest since Ebola was discovered in the 1970s.

"We still have a high level of transmission taking place into the communities," WHO spokesman Daniel Epstein told reporters.

The number of new cases reported over the period was 85, the figures showed.

The total number of laboratory-confirmed, probable or suspected cases of Ebola in the region has now risen to 964, said the WHO.

Although Guinea recorded the lowest number of new cases—six—it remains the worst-affected of the three nations.

In total, it has seen 406 cases and 304 deaths since the outbreak began in January.

Sierra Leone reported 49 new cases July 8 and 12, taking its total to 386. Of those, 194 have been fatal.

Liberia's figures showed 30 new cases. That took its case-count to 172 and its to 105.

The WHO and 11 west African health ministers earlier this month held crunch talks to try to combat the outbreak of the incurable disease.

Ebola is a form of haemorrhagic fever which is 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.

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

It spreads among humans via bodily fluids including sweat, meaning you can get sick from simply touching an infected person. With no vaccine, patients believed to have caught the virus must be isolated to prevent further contagion.

The WHO, local medical services and international charities have been working flat-out to discourage communities from continuing funeral rights that involve touching dead bodies.

"Our tactic is to get insiders, including religious leaders, community leaders, people respected, who can go into the communities," said Epstein.

He said that was also a key means of quashing rumours about the disease, which continue to circulate.

Ebola first emerged in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is named after a river in that country.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Regional Ebola response centre to be set up in Guinea

Jul 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.

Risk of Ebola spread in west Africa, WHO warns

Jun 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

Ebola: timeline of a ruthless killer

5 hours ago

Here are key dates in the current Ebola epidemic, the worst ever outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever which first surfaced in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

Jan 31, 2015

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

Jan 30, 2015

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Jan 30, 2015

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

User 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.