The current outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has killed more people than any previous outbreak. According to a spokesman from the organization "Doctors Without Borders," the disease is now "out of control."
The present outbreak is said to have begun at the end of last year in Guinea, Initially, it spread slowly and appeared to have been contained, but the pace of infection has increased in recent weeks, and has now spread to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia for the first time.
The Associated Press quotes the World Health Organization (WHO) as stating that the Ebola virus has been responsible for more than 330 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
Bart Janssens, director of operations for Doctors without Borders, said that they are at the limit of their ability to cope with the situation and requested international support and more medical staff. He added, "The reality is clear that the epidemic is now in a second wave, and, for me, it is totally out of control."
With only 40 medical staff in just four treatment centers, his organization has reached the limits of its capability. "There needs to be a real political commitment that this is a very big emergency," he said, "otherwise, it will continue to spread, and for sure it will spread to more countries."
Janssens accused the countries involved of not recognizing that the situation was so disastrous, and criticized the WHO for not doing enough to get the local authorities to take more action. The WHO did not respond immediately, but a spokeswoman said earlier that the fact that the Ebola virus had taken hold in so many locations and countries made this Ebola outbreak one of the most challenging outbreaks they had ever encountered
The Ebola virus causes organ failure and internal bleeding, and is spread through direct contact with infected people. Containing an outbreak focuses solely on supportive care for the ill and isolating them; there is no known cure and no vaccine. Touching the sick or dead without wearing protective clothing must be avoided at all costs.
The first recorded outbreak of Ebola was in 1976 in Congo where 280 people died. However, due to the remoteness of the areas it is likely that many other deaths were simply not counted.
While the Ebola virus is confined to only the poorest African countries it is likely that the international response will stay at a relatively low level.
Should Ebola spread to more developed nations, it will then be taken more seriously.