An outbreak of Ebola near Liberia’s border with Sierra Leone reverses a recent trend of fewer Liberians being infected by the potentially deadly virus. From Dec. 1 through Dec. 25, at least 49 new Ebola cases were reported in sparsely populated Grand Cape Mount County, according to a Dec. 29 Reuters report.
More than 3,400 people have died in Liberia in the worst Ebola epidemic on record, and the World Health Organization (WHO) believes the number of fatalities may be underreported. Almost 7,900 people have died in West Africa, the outbreak’s epicenter.
Speaking at a news conference Sunday in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, a government health administrator blamed suspected and probable Ebola victims migrating into the country and denial of Ebola’s existence by tribal leaders for the increase in new cases.
‘This is a serious situation and we are going to Cape Mount (Sunday) along with our international partners and UN agencies,’ said Tolbert Nyensuwah, assistant minister for preventive services and the head of Liberia’s Ebola response. ‘We are going there to open an Ebola Treatment Unit.’
BLU-MED Response Systems® offers field hospitals and isolation units that are suitable for use in the battle against Ebola. Currently, two BLU-MED Mobile Hospitals purchased by a German charity are providing 44 beds in Monrovia. Along with Sierra Leone and Guinea, Liberia is one of three countries considered to be ground zero for the Ebola epidemic.
With 400 new Ebola cases reported in West Africa in just four days, the outbreak has infected more than 20,000 people. Sierra Leone has passed Liberia in the total number of Ebola cases, according to Time’s Dec. 29 report, ‘Ebola Cases Reach Over 20,000.’
In a policy shift, Liberia has eased up on an order demanding cremation of deceased Ebola victims. More than 2,000 bodies have been cremated since government implemented the unpopular policy several months ago during the height of the outbreak.
Ciatta Bishop, head of the Liberia’s Ebola burial team, said the government secured a 25-acre parcel of land where Ebola victims can now be buried, according to a Dec. 30 Associated Press report on the ABC News website.
In other Ebola news, a new study suggests the 2014 Ebola outbreak may have started when a small, insect-eating bat came into contact with a 2-year-old boy in the Guinean village of Méliandou more than a year ago. The boy, Emile Ouamouno, is the infection’s earliest known victim. His death was soon followed by the deaths of his mother, sister and grandmother, according to the National Geographic report, ‘Insect-Eating Bat May Be Origin of Ebola Outbreak, New Study Suggests.’
The National Geographic report cites a study published in EMBO Molecular Medicine, from an international team led by Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin.
In a Dec. 29 report, Scientific American wonders ‘Is Ebola Here to Stay?’ Reporter Dina Fine Maron wrote that, in the future, the virus could be classified as an endemic, or reoccurring malady that does not need to be reintroduced to an area from an outside source. Maron uses the flu in the United States as an example of an endemic.
If Ebola is classified as an endemic it would change how the world responds to future outbreaks. It also would be a black eye.
‘To say it (Ebola) is endemic is, in one sense, to admit failure,” said Christopher Dye, the director of strategy in the office of the director general at the World Health Organization. ‘Our goal, and our expectation, is that we will eliminate infection from the human population.’
- See more at: WHO Rates Ebola Level in Sierra Leone