Ebola Virus: A Global Health Threat

Ebola Virus: A Global Health Threat

While global efforts have been focused on Ebola, many people have failed to receive treatment for other diseases such as malaria and measles, and this has led to even more deaths, experts say.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the world’s deadliest to date and the World Health Organization has declared an international health emergency as more than 3,850 people have died of the virus in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria this year.

Ebola is a viral illness of which the initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And that is just the beginning: subsequent stages are vomiting, diarrhea and – in some cases – both internal and external bleeding.

Ebola epidemic information

The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope.

It then spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments. Even funerals of Ebola victims can be a risk, if mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased.

And because of that, many government officials are doing their best to protect their own country against the spread of Ebola virus.

According to WHO, as of October 29, 2014,  4,951 deaths – probable, confirmed and suspected. (Includes one death in US and one in Mali)

  • 2,413 Liberia
  • 1,510 Sierra Leone
  • 1,018 Guinea
  • 8 Nigeria

That is why, U.S. philanthropist Bill Gates on Sunday announced he will donate over $500 million to fight malaria and other infectious diseases in the developing world, saying the Ebola outbreak is a call to action.

The former Microsoft CEO told the 63rd annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans that his Gates Foundation is committing more than $500 million in 2014 “to reduce the burden of malaria, pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, and an array of parasitic infections that are leading causes of death and disability in developing countries,” a statement said.

Gates also said that in addition to that pledge, his foundation has boosted its annual funding for malaria by 30 percent.

Gates described the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 4,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year as a “critical moment in the history of global health,” and said the world’s largest outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever underscores the need for stronger efforts to stay ahead of disease threats such as drug-resistant malaria and dengue fever.

This outbreak comes from the deadliest and most aggressive strain of the virus. The current outbreak is killing between 50% and 60% of people infected. It is not known which factors allow some people to recover while most succumb.

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