Concerns raised that Ebola toll may be higher than reported

Aug. 18, 2014

Several news stories related to the West Africa Ebola epidemic have broken in recent days:

  • The official death toll has reached 1,145, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and the organization indicates that the actual number may be much higher. According to WHO officials, “Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.” Reportedly, some people have died outside of health centers and may not have been counted.
  • The WHO reiterated that the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel remains low, since Ebola is not airborne but only transmissible via direct contact with body fluids. The agency has thus advised against epidemic-related travel bans.
  • Liberia, the nation with the highest number of reported fatalities so far (413), is treating three infected doctors with ZMapp, the monoclonal antibody-based drug developed by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc. In Atlanta, two American health workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia continue to recover. One of the Americans, Kent Brantley, MD, praised the staff at Emory University Hospital for providing “compassionate, world-class care.”
  • The International Olympic Committee announced that young competitors from affected nations participating in the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China (August 16-28), would not be permitted to compete in contact sports or allowed in the pool, and would be required to submit to regular physical assessments. This is probably sound health management, but no one can feel good about the stigmatization of these young people. We are reminded that epidemics sometimes have unexpected repercussions.

Read more at the WHO website.

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