A new set of numbers was produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) Friday signifying the extent to which the deadly Ebola virus has cut into the population of three West African countries — Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Agence France-Presse reported (via Yahoo News) Oct. 17 that the official death toll has now risen to 4,555.
According to WHO, the number of confirmed cases of contracted Ebola now stands at 9,216. The numbers reflect a little less than a fifty percent mortality rate among contractees. However, when delivering the figures, WHO always offers the disclaimer that there are undoubtedly a great number of contractees, both those who have died and survived, that have gone unreported, thus somewhat skewing the data.
Of the three worst-hit nations, Liberia has the lion’s share of confirmed deaths with 2,484 (more than half). Conversely, Senegal, which only had a single confirmed case of Ebola, was declared Ebola-free on Friday. Nigeria, which had 20 cases total with 8 dead, is set to be declared Ebola-free on Oct. 20 by WHO officials.
But WHO noted in their latest situation assessment that Ebola virus contraction had made its way out of Africa for the first time. Two of the cases presented in the United States, where two nurses who cared for the first ever Ebola-diagnosed patient in the U. S., Thomas Eric Duncan, were found to have the virus. There was another case in Spain — a nurse as well. And there was a report that a health worker that had contracted Ebola in Africa had died in Germany.
In the U. S., as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) got to work tracking down anyone that might have been in contact with Duncan and the presenting nurses, dozens of people were placed in quarantine. At the same time, reports all over the country indicated that people were beginning to panic. In an effort to calm fears, President Barack Obama urged Americans not to give in to hysteria, that chances of a widespread outbreak in the U. S. remains extremely low.
The rising death toll numbers come just three days after the WHO reported, according to CNN, that the number of new Ebola cases could rise to 10,000 per week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of this year. That and the seeming ill-preparedness of local and state health workers with regard to the Thomas Eric Duncan case in Texas prompted the CDC to announce the formation of a rapid deployment team to be available to any hot spot that might develop in the U. S.