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GENEVA, December 24. /TASS/. The number of people killed by the Ebola virus has exceeded 7,500, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement Wednesday.
“A total of 19 497 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in four affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone) and four previously affected countries (Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States of America) in the seven days to 21 December (week 51). There have been 7588 reported deaths,” the WHO’s report said.
“Reported case incidence is fluctuating in Guinea and declining in Liberia. In Sierra Leone, there are signs that the increase in incidence has slowed, and that incidence may no longer be increasing,” it said.
“The country’s west is now experiencing the most intense transmission in the affected countries, and response efforts have been strengthened to curb the spread of disease in the area. The reported case fatality rate in the three intense-transmission countries among all cases for whom a definitive outcome is known is 70%,” the report said.
“Interventions in these countries continue to progress in line with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) aim to conduct 100% of burials safely and with dignity, and to isolate and treat 100% of EVD cases by 1 January, 2015,” it said.
“At a national level, the capacity to isolate and treat EVD patients has improved in all three countries since the commencement of the emergency response. While every country has sufficient capacity to isolate patients, the uneven geographical distribution of beds and cases means shortfalls persist in some districts,” the WHO said.
“Each country has sufficient capacity to bury all people known to have died from Ebola, although it is possible that capacity is inadequate in some districts. The number of trained burial teams has significantly grown in each of the three countries in the past month,” it said.
“Every district that has reported a case of EVD in the three countries has access to a laboratory within 24 hours from sample collection. All three countries report that more than 90% of registered contacts associated with known cases of EVD are being traced, although there are discrepancies at the district level. The number of contacts traced per EVD case remains low in many districts,” the global health body said.
“Social mobilization continues to be an important component of the response. Engaging communities promotes burial practices that are safe and culturally acceptable, and the isolation and appropriate treatment of patients with clinical symptoms of EVD,” it said.
In line with statistics, the maximum number of Ebola-related deaths and cases is registered in Liberia - 3,384 cumulative deaths and 7,862 cumulative cases. Liberia is followed by Sierra Leone (2,582 deaths and 9,004 cases) and Guinea (1,607 and 2,597 respectively).
In countries with widespread and intense transmission (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea), “a total of 19 463 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD and 7573 deaths have been reported up to the end of 21 December 2014 by the Ministries of Health of Guinea and Sierra Leone, and 20 December by the Ministry of Health of Liberia. The data are reported through WHO country offices,” the WHO said.
“Taking into account the number of cases as a proportion of an affected country’s population, there have been 24 reported cases and 15 reported deaths per 100 000 population in Guinea, 199 cases and 85 deaths per 100 000 population in Liberia, and 157 cases and 45 deaths per 100 000 population in Sierra Leone,” it said.
“Five countries (Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States of America) have reported a case or cases imported from a country with widespread and intense transmission,” the global health body said.
“A total of 8 cases, including 6 deaths, have been reported in Mali. The most recent 7 cases are in the Malian capital Bamako, and are not related to the country’s first EVD case, who died in Kayes on 24 October. The last confirmed case tested negative for the second time on 6 December, and was discharged from hospital on 11 December,” it said.
“All identified contacts connected with both the initial case in Kayes and the outbreak in Bamako have completed the 21 day follow-up period,” the report said.
The Ebola virus disease, previously known as the Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe illness in humans, often fatal, according to the WHO. The virus is passed on to people from wild animals and can be transmitted from humans to humans. The average EVD case death rate is some 50%.
The first outbreaks of the EVD occurred in remote Central African villages, near tropical rainforests. However, major urban and rural areas have been involved in the most recent outbreak in western Africa.
Early supportive care, which includes rehydration and symptomatic treatment, improves the survival rate.
No licensed treatment has yet been proven to be able to neutralize the virus but a number of blood, immunological and drug medications are under development. There are no licensed Ebola vaccines yet but two candidates are being evaluated.