Prayers, pre­cau­tions in W Africa amid Ebola threat

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

CON­AKRY, Guinea (AP) — One preacher ad­vo­cated fast­ing and prayer to spare people from a virus that usu­ally leads to a hor­ri­ble death. Some people pray that the Ebola out­breaks, which are hit­ting three coun­tries in West Africa, stay away from their home ar­eas. Oth­ers seem un­ruf­fled and say it will blow over.

But more than a month af­ter Guinea Pres­i­dent Al­pha Conde told re­porters the Ebola out­break that orig­i­nated in his coun­try was un­der con­trol, the death toll continues to climb in his coun­try as well as in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

At least 231 people have died since the out­break of the fear­some dis­ease, which causes bleed­ing in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally and for which there is no known cure. Guinea has recorded just over 200 deaths, along with about a dozen each in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The head of a non-gov­ern­men­tal health or­ga­ni­za­tion in Sierra Leone said on lo­cal ra­dio on Tues­day that the death toll is dou­ble the num­ber of­fi­cially re­ported in that coun­try. Charles Mambu, chair­man of Health for All Coali­tion, also called on the govern­ment to de­clare a pub­lic health emer­gency. Asked to com­ment, Amara Jam­bai, the di­rec­tor for dis­ease con­trol and preven­tion in the Min­istry of Health, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that “the spread of the dis­ease is se­ri­ous. Ebola is with us and we must come to­gether as a na­tion to fight it.”

Ex­perts say the out­break may have be­gun as far back as Jan­uary in south­east Guinea. Ebola typ­i­cally be­gins in re­mote places and it can take sev­eral in­fec­tions be­fore the dis­ease is iden­ti­fied, mak­ing a pre­cise start date vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to pin down. It’s one of the worst out­breaks since the dis­ease was first recorded in 1976 in si­mul­ta­ne­ous out­breaks in Sudan and Congo, said Dr. Ar­mand Sprecher of Doc­tors With­out Borders. It may wind up be­ing the worst out­break ever.

The West Africa Ebola sit­u­a­tion is es­pe­cially chal­leng­ing be­cause of the num­ber of “satel­lite out­breaks” that have cropped up, said Sprecher, who has worked on the emer­gency re­sponses in Guinea as well as in Uganda in 2000 and in Congo in 2007. There have been at least six satel­lite out­breaks else­where in Guinea — in­clud­ing the sprawl­ing sea­side cap­i­tal of Con­akry — and in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Sprecher said.

In each out­break, health work­ers must iden­tify pa­tients, trace and mon­i­tor ev­ery­one they’ve been in con­tact with and teach people how to avoid the dis­ease.

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