The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

US health official says Ebola has 'upper hand' in W Africa but experts have tools to stop it

  • Print

MONROVIA, Liberia - Ebola still has the "upper hand" in the outbreak that has killed more than 1,400 people in West Africa, but experts have the means to stop it, a top American health official said during a visit to the hardest-hit countries.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was in Liberia on Tuesday and later planned to stop in Sierra Leone and Guinea. Nigeria also has cases, but officials there have expressed optimism the virus can be controlled.

"Lots of hard work is happening. Lots of good things are happening," Frieden said at a meeting attended by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday. "But the virus still has the upper hand."

Even as Liberia has resorted to stringent measures to try to halt Ebola's spread, frustration mounted over the slow collection of bodies from neighbourhoods of Monrovia. A group of residents attached plastic ties to the wrists and ankles of one suspected Ebola victim and dragged his corpse to a busy street.

Authorities have decreed that all the dead must be collected by government health workers and cremated because contact with bodies can transmit the virus.

There is no proven treatment for Ebola, so health workers primarily focus on isolating the sick. But a small number of patients in this outbreak have received an experimental drug called ZMapp. The London hospital treating a British nurse infected in Sierra Leone, William Pooley, said he is now receiving the drug.

It was unclear where the doses for Pooley came from. The California-based maker of ZMapp has said its supplies are exhausted.

Two Americans, a Spaniard and three health workers in Liberia have received ZMapp. It is unclear if the drug is effective. The Americans have been released from the hospital, but the Spaniard died, as did a Liberian doctor.

In Nigeria, two more Ebola patients were declared to have recovered and were released from hospital, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said Tuesday. Five people have died of the disease in Nigeria, while a total of seven have recovered. One person remains in the hospital in an isolation ward, Chukwu said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization announced that it is pulling out its team from the eastern Sierra Leonean city of Kailahun, where an epidemiologist working with the organization was recently infected. Daniel Kertesz, the organization's representative in the country, said that the team was exhausted and that the added stress of a colleague getting sick could increase the risk of mistakes.

Also, Canadian health officials late Tuesday said in a statement that they would evacuate a three-member mobile laboratory team in Sierra Leone after people in their hotel were diagnosed with Ebola.

The outbreak is the largest on record. Doctors took a long time to identify it, it is happening in a region where people are highly mobile, it has spread to densely populated areas, and many people have resisted or hid from treatment. The disease has overwhelmed the already shaky health systems in some of the world's poorest countries.

"Ebola doesn't spread by mysterious means. We know how it spreads," Frieden said in remarks carried on Liberian TV. "So we have the means to stop it from spreading, but it requires tremendous attention to every detail."

Liberian officials have sealed off an entire slum neighbourhood in the capital. Sirleaf also has declared a state of emergency and ordered all top government officials to remain in the country or return from any trips.

Late Monday, her office said in a statement that any officials who defied the order had been fired. The statement did not say how many or who had been dismissed.

According to WHO, the Ebola outbreak has killed over half of the more than 2,600 people sickened. The U.N. agency said an unprecedented 240 health care workers have been infected.

The agency attributed the high number of infections among health workers to a shortage of protective gear, improper use of such equipment, and a shortage of staff to treat the tremendous influx of patients.

In the current outbreak, as many as 90,000 protective suits will be needed every month, according to Jorge Castilla, an epidemiologist with the European Union Commission's Department for Humanitarian Aid. He did not say how many suits were lacking.

The outbreak also desperately needs more workers to trace the people the sick have come into contact with and more centres where patients can be screened for the disease in a way that contains any Ebola infections, Castilla said.

An Ebola outbreak emerged over the weekend in Congo, though experts say it is not related to the West African epidemic. Doctors Without Borders, which is running many of the treatment centres in the West Africa outbreak, said it is sending experts and supplies to Congo but warned that the charity's resources are stretched thin.

___

Associated Press writers Abbas Dulleh in Monrovia, Liberia, and Sarah DiLorenzo in Dakar, Senegal, and Bashir Adigun in Abuja, Nigeria, contributed to this report.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Jets Bogosian-Little-Ladd

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Bright sunflowers lift their heads toward the south east skies in a  large sunflower field on Hwy 206 and #1 Thursday Standup photo. July 31,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you plan on attending any of the CMHR opening weekend events? (select all that apply)

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google