-- E.J. Mundell
FRIDAY, Aug. 8 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The World Health
Organization on Friday declared the outbreak of deadly Ebola virus
in West Africa a "public health emergency."
The outbreak, which has already claimed 961 lives in Guinea,
Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, "constitutes an 'extraordinary
event' and a public health risk to other States," WHO said in a
statement. The declaration was based on the unanimous decision of
an Emergency Committee meeting convened this week.
"A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola," the organization said. Experts pointed to several ominous factors, such as the emergence of cases of Ebola in densely populated cities; cases arising among health-care workers that suggest "inadequate infection control practices;" and generally "fragile" health care systems.
WHO recommended that each of the countries affected by the
outbreak declare a national emergency, clearly inform the public of
the situation and ramp up efforts to limit transmission of the
On Friday evening, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared
"a national emergency" and approved more than $11 million in
government funding to fight the spread of Ebola, according to
Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention raised its response to the Ebola outbreak to its highest
alert status. The move allows the CDC to expand its role in
fighting the growing public health crisis, which gained new urgency
as cases of the deadly infection began to be reported in populous
NBC News, a "level 1 activation" response has typically been
reserved for only the most dire and pressing emergencies, such as
the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the bird flu outbreak
in 2009. The CDC has already committed 50 more staff people to fly
to the area of the outbreak over the next month, and more could
Meanwhile, medical ethicists will meet next week to discuss who
should have access to the limited supplies of an experimental
medicine for the deadly Ebola virus, WHO said.
The drug was given to and benefited Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy
Writebol, two American aid workers who contracted the disease in
West Africa. It was the first time the drug was tried on people,
The maker of the drug has said it can't produce large amounts of
the experimental medicine, which means only a limited number of
patients will be able to receive it. There is no certified vaccine
or cure for Ebola.
"We are in an unusual situation in this outbreak," WHO official Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny said in a statement, NBCreported. "We need to ask the medical ethicists to give us guidance on what the responsible thing to do is."
Visit the CDC for more on
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.