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WHO Issues Update on Ebola Crisis

Death toll nears 5,000

According to the latest in a series of situation reports being issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of 13,042 confirmed, probable, or suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in six affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Spain, and the U.S.) and in two previously affected countries (Nigeria and Senegal) up to the end of November 2. So far, the disease has caused an estimated 4,818 deaths.

WHO reports that a total of 546 health care workers (HCWs) are known to have been infected with EVD up to the end of November 2, more than half (310) of whom have died. Four HCWs were infected between October 27 and November 2.

In the key affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, a total of 13,015 confirmed, probable, or suspected cases of EVD and 4,808 deaths have been reported.

While the incidence of EVD appears to be stable at a national level in Guinea, EVD transmission remains intense, WHO notes. Ninety-three new confirmed cases were reported in the past week.

There appears to be evidence of a decline at the national level in Liberia, although new case numbers remain high in parts of the country. While Liberia did not indicate any confirmed cases in its situation reports in the past week, it reported 89 probable cases.

EVD transmission remains “very concerning” in Sierra Leone, WHO says, with the country reporting 435 confirmed cases in the past week.

Isolating EVD patients in Ebola treatment centers and in community care centers is critical in the prevention of further transmission, WHO warns. For the period October 13–19, 52% of Ebola patients were reported to be hospitalized and isolated in the three intense-transmission countries.

Five additional countries (Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, and the U.S.) have reported a case or cases of EVD imported from a country with widespread and intense transmission.

In Nigeria, there were 20 cases and eight deaths. In Senegal, there was one case and no deaths. However, after a successful response in both countries, the outbreaks of EVD in Senegal and Nigeria were declared over on October 17 and 19, respectively.

In the U.S., there have been four cases of EVD and one death. Two HCWs tested negative for Ebola twice and have been released from the hospital. Another HCW has been placed in isolation in New York City and is receiving treatment. Of 177 possible contacts, 53 are being monitored and 124 have completed 21-day follow-up.

The success of Nigeria and Senegal in halting the transmission of EVD highlights the critical importance of preparedness in countries at high risk of an outbreak, WHO points out. Important factors in preventing the spread of EVD in both countries included strong political leadership, early detection and response, public-awareness campaigns, and support from partner organizations.

WHO says that it requires US$260 million to meet the objectives of its response to the Ebola outbreak. As of October 24, the agency has received 49% of these funds, and 15% of the funds required have been pledged, leaving a gap of 36%. WHO continues to appeal to member states to provide funding and other resources to assist in containing the Ebola outbreak.

Source: WHO; November 5, 2014.

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