Friday, June 27, 2014

Fighting Ebola and its myths

IRIN: A months-long battle to bring West Africa’s Ebola outbreak under control has stretched medical teams to the limit, while mistrust in some communities has impaired prevention work and raised questions about the delivery of health warnings.

The outbreak, which was first declared in March in southeast Guinea, should have been winding down now, with cases reducing as controls take effect, said Armand Sprecher, a public health specialist with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Guinea.

Sprecher, who has worked on haemorrhagic fever outbreaks like Ebola and Marburg in places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Western Kasai area, explains that outbreaks normally run their course and eventually die down because they are contained within a limited geographic area.

That looked to be the case in May with optimistic signs that the outbreak had already peaked, or was even over. But those hopes have since faded, with new cases being identified in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. At least 340 people have died of the disease so far in the three countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Guinea, the worst-hit among the three West African countries, traditional burial rituals are still being observed despite the health hazards and many people are reluctant to be traced for medical surveillance (as a precaution for having come into contact with those infected)....

Color-enhanced electronmicrograph of Ebola virus particles, Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine - PLoS Pathogens, November 2008, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons 2.5 license

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