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by Robertddd
Last updated 7 years ago

Life Science

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West Africa is ground zero for the Ebola problem. In Sierra Leone, a West African country hit hard by the disease, President Ernest Bai Koroma announced in late September that his government was placing three additional districts under quarantine, raising the number of the country's 14 districts affected by the measures to five. The quarantine announcement came three days after the end of a 72-hour nationwide lockdown during which residents were ordered to stay indoors as officials tried to assess the spread of the disease through the country and educate residents about its severity.


According to figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO), 6,553 people had been infected during the current Ebola outbreak through September 23, and 3,083 people had died of the illness during that time. Most observers believe the actual numbers of infected and deceased are much higher; many infections are thought to be going uncounted as people suffering from the disease remain in their homes, in some cases intentionally hiding out from public health officials whom they mistrust. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report assumed that the actual number of infections was two and a half times what the WHO figures indicated. Even on the basis of the WHO's official count, more people had contracted Ebola and died from it during in the current outbreak than in all of the world's previous known outbreaks of the disease combined.

In humans, the Ebola virus causes vomiting and diarrhea, as well as high fever and sometimes profuse internal and external bleeding. Transmission of the disease occurs via contact with infected bodily fluids. This means that Ebola is passed along much less frequently and easily than many other diseases — flu, for example. On the other hand, Ebola is a very serious and often fatal disease, and so public fear of it has been intense. Public health officials note that a lack of basic medical supplies such as latex gloves in the affected regions has contributed to the rapid spread of the disease, as have traditional burial practices involving physical contact with the dead. Past outbreaks of Ebola had a fatality rate of up to 90%, though, according to the WHO, the current outbreak so far has had a fatality rate of about 70%.


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