Ebola epidemic 'spiraling out of control'
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 3:19 PM -
It's the first real Ebola epidemic the world has even seen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and some officials believe the actual number of people infected could be much higher.
"We've seen outbreaks of Ebola before," Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC told reporters Tuesday.
"This is the first epidemic spreading widely throughout country and many countries, and it's spiraling out of control. It's bad now, much worse than the numbers show. It's going to get even worse in the very near future and our window of opportunity to turn it around is closing, but it's not yet closed. The crucial thing we need to do is to act fast. Action today is worth much more than action within a couple of weeks or a month or two."
The first human trial of an experimental vaccine is set to begin this week at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, Virginia. Researchers will give it to healthy human volunteers who will be monitored for possible side effects.
The results of the trial are expected to be released by the end of the year.
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CAN EBOLA BE STOPPED?
Health officials say that while the outbreak is becoming harder to manage, they are working around the clock to put an end to the epidemic.
"This is not a mysterious disease. This is an infectious disease that can be contained," Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization's head of health security, told reporters earlier this month.
"It is not a virus that is spread through the air."
The health agency is advising governments take greater precautions to stop the spread, arguing that the best known tactics to control Ebola outbreaks -- i.e., hospital infection control, public awareness and tracking infected patients -- does not appear to be strictly enforced in some areas.
WHAT IS EBOLA?
The Ebola virus is a "severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90 [percent]," WHO says on its website.
"It is one of the world’s most virulent diseases. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care."
Health workers, family members of infected patients and people in close contact with sick or deceased patients are at the greatest risk of becoming infected.