Peace Corps withdraws from W. Africa over Ebola fears

July 31, 2014

The US Peace Corps announced Wednesday it was pulling hundreds of volunteers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to growing concerns over the spread of the deadly Ebola epidemic raging in West Africa.

Another US group, Christian charity Samaritan's Purse, said it was also temporarily withdrawing its non-essential staff from Liberia, citing regional "instability and ongoing security issues."

A Peace Corps spokeswoman said two of the group's volunteers had contracted Ebola after coming into contact with someone who later died from the virus, but she stressed that they were not symptomatic and were currently under medical observation and being held in isolation.

"When they receive medical clearance for return to the US, we will work with them to travel safely back," she added.

At least one American has died from the virus after contracting it in Liberia, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. Two others have been infected.

The Peace Corps said it would "closely monitor" the outbreak with US experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State Department before a future return to the three countries, those most affected by the outbreak. The US government-run volunteer agency set no date for resuming operations.

"The Peace Corps has enjoyed long partnerships with the government and people of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and is committed to continuing volunteers' work there," it said in a statement.

Two Americans associate with Samaritan's Purse "have shown a slight improvement in the past 24 hours," but both remain in serious condition after contracting the virus in Liberia, the group said. It was unclear if they were the same two cases to which Harf referred.

The two Americans were identified as Kent Brantly, a doctor working for Samaritan's Purse, and Nancy Writebol, a missionary with partner organization Service in Mission (SIM).

There are currently 102 Peace Corps volunteers in Guinea working on agriculture, education and health, 108 in Liberia and 130 in Sierra Leone.

The three countries are struggling to contain an epidemic that has infected 1,200 people and left at least 672 dead across the region since the start of the year.

Fears that the outbreak could spread to other continents have been growing with European and Asian countries on alert and leading medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warning the epidemic is out of control.

The Peace Corps said it had provided volunteers in adjacent areas to those countries with guidance to take the "utmost precautions" to protect their health in recent months.

Ebola, which first emerged in 1976, is believed to be carried by animals hunted for meat, notably bats.

It spreads among humans via bodily fluids and has killed 56 percent of those it has infected in the current outbreak.

Explore further: Top Sierra Leone doctor dies of Ebola

Related Stories

Top Sierra Leone doctor dies of Ebola

July 29, 2014
(AP)—Authorities say the top doctor treating Ebola in Sierra Leone has died from the disease.

US doctor in Africa tests positive for Ebola

July 27, 2014
(AP)—A U.S. doctor working with Ebola patients in Liberia has tested positive for the deadly virus, an aid organization said Saturday.

Liberia shuts schools in battle against Ebola: president

July 30, 2014
Liberia announced Wednesday it was shutting all schools and placing "non-essential" government workers on 30 days' leave in a bid to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola epidemic raging in west Africa.

Sierra Leone defends its record on Ebola outbreak

June 21, 2014
Sierra Leone says it is dismayed by allegations that it is not doing enough to combat the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa.

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.

Hong Kong makes Ebola 'contingency' measures

July 30, 2014
Hong Kong said Wednesday it was quarantining all people from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia who were showing Ebola-like symptoms on arrival in the city, as fears grow worldwide about the spread of the deadly virus.

Recommended for you

Scientists develop infection model for tickborne flaviviruses

August 22, 2017
National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have filled a research gap by developing a laboratory model to study ticks that transmit flaviviruses, such as Powassan virus. Powassan virus was implicated in the death of a ...

Zika virus stifles pregnant women's weakened immune system to harm baby, study finds

August 21, 2017
The Zika virus, linked to congenital birth defects and miscarriages, suppresses a pregnant woman's immune system, enabling the virus to spread and increasing the chances an unborn baby will be harmed, a Keck School of Medicine ...

Fatty liver can cause damage to other organs via crosstalk

August 21, 2017
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is increasingly common. Approximately every third adult in industrialized countries has a morbidly fatty liver. This not only increases the risk of chronic liver diseases such as liver cirrhosis ...

Novel approach to track HIV infection

August 18, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have developed a novel method of tracking HIV infection, allowing the behavior of individual virions—infectious particles—to be connected to infectivity.

Faulty gene linked to obesity in adults

August 18, 2017
Groundbreaking new research linking obesity and metabolic dysfunction to a problem in the energy generators in cells has been published by researchers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

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.