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Death toll still rising in West African Ebola outbreak

WHO: “this is a rapidly changing situation, the number of reported cases and deaths are preliminary and subject to change due to enhanced surveillance activities and laboratory testing of cases.”

By JC Sevcik
Death toll still rising in West African Ebola outbreak
The World Health Organization released an update Thursday announcing that the death toll in the West African outbreak of Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever has risen to 66 people. Ebola virus. (CDC)

The death toll in West African Ebola virus outbreak has risen to 66 people, according to the World Health Organization.

The WHO released an update on their site Thursday, reporting that “The Ministry of Health of Guinea has today reported 4 laboratory confirmed cases of Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever (EHF) in the capital, Conakry. In addition, a fifth suspected case died without laboratory confirmation.”

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WHO says rapid response teams are conducting intensive case investigations to identify the source of the outbreak and efforts to educate affected communities in best practices to reduce further transmission are underway.

Yesterday’s update brings the total number of suspected and confirmed cases in the on-going EHF outbreak to 103 people, including 66 confirmed deaths, and four healthcare workers counted among the dead. Adults age 15-59 have accounted for most of the patients, though all age groups have been affected.

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But the WHO advises that as “this is a rapidly changing situation, the number of reported cases and deaths are preliminary and subject to change due to enhanced surveillance activities and laboratory testing of cases.”

Because the disease is transmitted through bodily fluids, risk to most travelers is low, though the CDC has still issued a level 2 alert, encouraging travelers heading to the region to practice enhanced precautions.

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There is no known treatment for the virus and no vaccine. The fatality rate is 64 percent so far, though previous outbreaks have seen fatality rates as high as 90 percent.

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As part of the international response to the outbreak the WHO has deployed experts whose priority will be “Training health and community workers to detect, notify and manage suspected and confirmed cases and in measures to strengthen infection prevention and control, including the safe burial of the deceased.”

[WHO] [CDC]

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