• Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ebola 'an international emergency': WHO

BBC Online
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan (L) sits next to Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director general for health security, as he addresses the media after a two-day meeting of its emergency committee on Ebola, in Geneva August 8, 2014. West Africa's raging epidemic of Ebola virus is an
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan (L) sits next to Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director general for health security, as he addresses the media after a two-day meeting of its emergency committee on Ebola, in Geneva August 8, 2014. West Africa's raging epidemic of Ebola virus is an "extraordinary event" and now constitutes an international health risk, the WHO said on Friday. Photo: Reuters

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of Ebola in West Africa an international health emergency.

WHO officials said the possible consequences were "particularly serious" because of the virulence of the virus.

The announcement came after experts convened a two-day emergency meeting in Switzerland.

So far more than 930 people have died from Ebola in West Africa this year.

The United Nations health agency said the outbreak was an "extraordinary event".

A health worker, wearing personal protection gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola virus disease (EVD), at a treatment centre for infected persons in Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone in this August, 2014 handout photo provided by UNICEF August 6, 2014. Workers in the treatment centre are stretched to capacity. UNICEF is supporting the hospital by providing treatment supplies like intravenous fluids and equipment such as protective gear and body bags. As of 4 August, a total of 1,711 cases, including 932 deaths, had been attributed to EVD in the four West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone has borne 691 of these cases (576 confirmed, 49 probable and 66 suspected), including 286 deaths. Photo: Reuters
A health worker, wearing personal protection gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola virus disease (EVD), at a treatment centre for infected persons in Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone in this August, 2014 handout photo provided by UNICEF August 6, 2014. Photo: Reuters

"A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola," it said in a statement.

The outbreak involves transmission in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

The WHO said there would be no general ban on international travel or trade.

However, states should be prepared to detect, investigate and manage Ebola cases, including at airports, it said.

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% - but the current outbreak is about 55%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats are considered to be virus' natural host

Published: 12:01 am Friday, August 08, 2014

Last modified: 9:15 pm Friday, August 08, 2014

TAGS: Health Africa WHO Ebola

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