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WHO: Evidence shows Ebola crisis 'vastly' underestimated

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Dalia Ibrahim
Digital Reporter

Friday, August 15, 2014, 2:47 PM -

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the magnitude of the ebola crisis in West Africa is "vastly" underestimated -- this as the death toll from the virus has passed 1000. 

Ebola has infected at least 1900 people in Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began this year. Half of the victims have died. 

The WHO says the outbreak is "expected to continue for some time," largely because of unreported cases and deaths. 

Officials with the United Nations Health Agency say they cannot estimate how many infections were never reported to doctors. 

The Ebola virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever and affects multiple organ systems in the body. 

It is spread through contact with bodily fluids.


IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS: Why is Ebola so deadly? Expert explains.


CAN EBOLA BE STOPPED?

Health officials are confident they can put an end to the outbreak.

"This is not a mysterious disease. This is an infectious disease that can be contained," Keiji Fukuda, WHO's head of health security, told reporters according to Reuters.

"It is not a virus that is spread through the air."

The health agency is advising governments take greater precautions to stop the spread of the disease, 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.


SEE ALSO: Man in Brampton, Ont. being treated for Ebola-like symptoms


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.

With files from CNN

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