Ebola Outbreak Confirmed to Have Spread to LiberiaBy: Sean Patterson - March 31, 2014
The World Health Organization (WHO) this week confirmed that an outbreak of Ebola haemorrhaggic fever in Western Africa has entered Liberia. According to the Liberian Ministry of Health, two cases of the Ebola virus have been confirmed in the country. One of the patients confirmed to have the virus, a 35-year-old woman, has died.
News of a rapidly-spreading ebola outbreak in neighboring Guinea shocked the region last week. As of March 28 there have been a total of 112 confirmed cases of ebola in Guinea this month. Seventy deaths have been attributed to the virus in the country – a shocking 62.5% fatality rate for this outbreak.
In Liberia health officials are now coordinating with neighboring nations to control and prevent the spread of the virus. The country has also put together a task force to lead its response to the virus. The task force includes partners such as the International Red Cross, the WHO, and UNICEF.
Healthcare workers in Liberia are receiving training to contain ebola and awareness campaigns are ongoing. The country is also strengthening infection control at Foya Hospital, including extra personal preventive equipment for health workers and supplies for quarantining patients.
In Guinea two healthcare workers have become ill with suspected cases of ebola. As a response, the WHO is recommending strengthened infection control at Guinea medical facilities.
The ebola outbreak has also spread to nearby Sierra Leone. That country has confirmed two cases of ebola, and each of those patients has died. All of the patients diagnosed with or suspected to have ebola in both Sierra Leone and Liberia had traveled to Guinea before their illness.
Despite the worrying cases of ebola, the WHO is not yet recommending travel or trade restrictions for any of the countries affected by the outbreak. Response teams in each of the countries are carrying out assessments and implementing response plans. Close contacts of those diagnosed with ebola are being identified and follow-ups monitoring of hundreds has begun.