West Africa Ebola Infections

Today the World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency, demanding an “extraordinary” response — only the third such declaration of its kind since regulations permitting such alarms were adopted in 2007.

They went on to state however that there should be no general international travel or trade bans because of the outbreak. Seems a bit odd? Perhaps more of a political than a health one.

This is the worst known outbreak of the Ebola virus, with almost 1,000 fatalities in West Africa. The organization acknowledged that the outbreak, already in its sixth month, was far from being contained.

The W.H.O. urged all states where the disease is spreading to declare a state of emergency, to screen all people leaving at international airports, seaports and land crossings, and to prevent travel by anyone suspected of having the Ebola virus. The move is aimed at containing the disease. But the organization did not recommend a ban on travel to or from places with outbreaks because of the low risk of infection.

“Lives are being lost because the response is too slow,” it said.

Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization’s director general, told a news conference at the body’s Geneva headquarters: “This is the largest, most severe, most complex outbreak in the nearly four-decade history of the disease.”

The total number of confirmed, probable and suspected cases, including the fatalities, was 1,711.