-- HealthDay staff
FRIDAY, Aug. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The West African Ebola
outbreak took a more deadly turn Friday with the World Health
Organization announcing an estimated 500 new cases this week -- the
biggest jump in infections so far.
Most of the new cases arose in Liberia, the U.N. health agency
said, but cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone also rose sharply, the
"There are serious problems with case management and infection prevention and control," according to the WHO report. "The situation is worsening in Liberia and Sierra Leone."
Senegal -- a prime tourist destination in the region -- has also
now recorded its first case, an infected university student from
Guinea who sought treatment at a hospital in Senegal's capital
city, Dakar, the
According to Senegal's Health Minister, Awa Marie Coll Seck, the
young man had had contact with Ebola patients in Guinea and has now
been placed under quarantine. Tests have confirmed he is infected
with Ebola virus, the
The news follows a WHO update released on Thursday that warned
that the deadly Ebola outbreak hitting five West African nations
could eventually infect more than 20,000 people.
Already the largest Ebola outbreak ever, the viral infection has
produced 3,069 cases so far and killed 1,552 people in Guinea,
Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, with Senegal now added to that
Nearly 40 percent of the total number of reported cases have
occurred in the past three weeks, the health agency said.
"This far outstrips any historic Ebola outbreak in numbers. The largest outbreak in the past was about 400 cases," Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO's assistant director-general for emergency operations, said at a news conference, the APreported.
In the meantime, many American universities say they plan to run
extra health checks on college students arriving from the affected
According to the
AP, about 30 students from Nigeria are expected to arrive
this semester at the University of Illinois. According to Dr.
Robert Palinkas, director of the university's health center, the
Nigerian students will be asked to undergo a temperature check for
signs of fever and to have a private discussion about Ebola when
they arrive at the university health center for required
immunization paperwork and tuberculosis testing.
Health experts stress that the threat to U.S. college students
remains very small, but Palinkas told the
APthat the added precautions should reassure parents.
"Parents are comforted to know that there is a screening process, that we are alert for it, that we are prepared for it," he said, "and that we're doing everything we can without infringing on the rights of anybody to make sure their son or daughter is going to have the lowest risk possible."
Similar precautions are being conducted at the University at
Buffalo in New York, Mercer University in Georgia, Liberty
University in Lynchburg, Va., and the University of Akron in Ohio,
In response to the crisis, WHO unveiled a battle plan Thursday
that calls for stopping Ebola transmissions within six to nine
months, while "rapidly managing the consequences of any further
international spread," the WHO said in a news release.
The plan calls for spending $489 million over the next nine
months and enlisting 750 international workers and 12,000 national
Also Thursday, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said
it would begin testing an experimental Ebola vaccine in humans next
week. It will be tested in 20 healthy adults in Maryland to see if
it's safe and able to produce an appropriate immune system
The vaccine was developed by the U.S. National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases and drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. It
will also be tested on healthy volunteers in Great Britain and the
West African nations of Gambia and Mali, the NIH said.
Unlike diseases such as tuberculosis or flu, Ebola isn't spread
by breathing air from an infected person. Transmission requires
direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids
of infected living or dead persons or animals, according to the
Ebola, one of the world's most virulent diseases, kills up to 90
percent of people it infects. Symptoms include a sudden fever,
intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is
followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, poor kidney and liver
function and, in some cases, both internal and external
Many of those killed during the current Ebola outbreak have been
health care workers.
According to the CDC, health care workers must be able to
recognize a case of Ebola and be ready to use "isolation
precautions or barrier nursing techniques." Barrier nursing
The aim of these techniques is to avoid contact with the blood
or secretions of an infected patient, the CDC said.
For more on Ebola virus, visit the
for Disease Control and Prevention.
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