UPDATED 7/2/14, 4:44 P.M. EST: According to the World Health Organization, the death toll of people killed by Ebola has increased to 467 as of this week, with 68 more people perishing since June 23.
In addition, the number of people who have contracted the virus has risen 20 percent since the same date.
As previously reported by Face2Face Africa (read our reporting below), this is the largest outbreak of Ebola, affecting Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
The highest concentration of Ebola, though, is in the southern region of Guekedou, Guinea, where the virus was initially detected.
According to the BBC, 11 health ministers representing a West African country met on Wednesday in Ghana in order to “tackle the outbreak.”
In March this year, the Ministry of Health in Guinea reported the outbreak of an illness whose symptoms were fever, severe diarrhea, vomiting, and a high-death rate. This illness turned out to be caused by the Ebola virus. Since then, the disease has spread to other West African countries, including Sierra Leone and Liberia. The number of infected people continues to rise with no signs of abating, and as of this minute, there have been at least 528 cases with 337 deaths.
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The epidemic has gotten out of control and even the international organizations helping with aid, treatment, and containment of the disease seem to be getting overwhelmed. Doctors Without Borders (a.k.a. Médecins Sans Frontières), the only aid organization treating people affected by the virus, has sent more than 300 of its staff and 40 tons of equipment and supplies to West Africa to help fight the epidemic, but they warn that it’s not enough:
“Despite the human resources and equipment deployed by MSF in the three affected countries, we are no longer able to send teams to the new outbreak sites,” one of their officials said.
Watch Doctors Without Borders discuss the Ebola outbreak in West Africa here:
While we wait for government and international assistance with containment and the eradication of the outbreak, it is important for us as individuals to recognize our own roles in protecting ourselves from this deadly disease.
In April, Face2FaceAfrica published an article discussing what Ebola is and how to protect yourself from it. In case you missed it, please read it here.
To put it mildly, Ebola is a vicious killer disease.
The symptoms, which can take between 2 to 21 days to manifest, initially mimic the flu (headache, fever, fatigue) before it brings out the big guns (significant diarrhea and vomiting) then the virus shuts off the blood’s ability to clot, leaving the infected person bleeding from every and any body orifice leading to internal and external hemorrhaging.
Many of the infected die in an average of 10 days.
It’s not enough to say only West Africans should be worried about the outbreak; the world is a global village, and with the rate of international travels to and from the region, we all need to be careful.
If you feel funny, especially after recent travel, please see your doctor. Even if it’s not Ebola, don’t joke around with your health.
Stay healthy, folks.
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Face2face Africa invites you to join us for our annual Pan-African Weekend July 25-27 in NYC, honoring Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Alek Wek, Femi Kuti, Masai Ujiri, Bethlehem Alemu, and Dr. Oheneba Bochie-Adjei. Click here for more details and register to attend.