On Wednesday, the U..S.. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that an employee working in Sierra Leone was exposed to the deadly Ebola virus.
The CDC confirmed that two members of its staff from Kailahun have been evacuated after one was confirmed to have had what is considered low-risk contact with a person who contracted Ebola.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Dr. Tom Frieden while in Liberia on Monday to assess the Ebola outbreak called the situation “overwhelming,” and emphasized the need for a global response. The CDC director warned that the deadly Ebola virus outbreak will get worse before it gets better.
Dr. Frieden explained that there are far more cases than reported because there are not enough health workers to maintain new cases/records. The outbreak “really is a crisis and is affecting most if not all the counties in Liberia already,” he told NPR from Monrovia, the capital city and first stop on a three-country visit. “This is absolutely unprecedented.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) at least 1,427 people have died and 2,615 have been infected since the Ebola disease was detected deep in the forests of southeastern Guinea in March.
In a statement on Monday, WHO said more than 240 health care workers working in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone have developed the disease with “more than 120” succumbing to the epidemic.
In late July, the first two Americans tested positive for Ebola in Africa, were later identified as Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, and Nancy Writebol, a missionary health care worker were transported back to the U.S. for treatment survived after being given the experimental drug ZMapp at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. When the two were released last week, their doctors said it is not know whether the drug helped them or not.
After the experimental drug ZMapp was administered to two Americans and a Spanish priest infected with the virus in Africa, an intense ethical debate ensued. ZMapp, while in short supply, had shown promising results in the two Americans, although the priest died.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says Ebola is a Viral Hemorrhagic Fever that kills humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) quickly, killing over 50 percent of victims, depending on the strain. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebola, although 8-10 days is most common.
A fact sheet from the National Academies and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security lists the Ebola virus as a biological agent of concern for terrorist attacks. Members of the Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo, the terrorist group that released the nerve gas Sarin in the Tokyo subway in 1995, traveled to Zaire in 1992 to obtain samples of Ebola virus. Aum Shinrikyo is an example of a large well financed organization that was attempting to develop biological weapons capability.
The CDC continues to urge people who have been exposed to Ebola to avoid travel on commercial airplanes until he or she is monitored for symptoms for at least three weeks after exposure. The CDC recommended that airlines consider stopping sick travelers from boarding flights if Ebola is suspected.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) Disaster Information Management Research Center has a new webpage, Ebola Outbreak 2014: that provides various information resources related to the outbreak.