Ebola outbreak continues to spread

Ebola has claimed more than 2000 lives and the incidence of new cases is expected to increase.

The largest outbreak of Ebola on record is spreading throughout Western Africa and has claimed more than 2000 lives over the past month. The UN Health agency has warned that over the coming weeks, an "exponential increase" in new cases is expected in the hardest hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. "Many thousands of new cases are expected in Liberia over the coming three weeks," said the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a statement on Monday.

The United States and Britain have moved to send medical equipment and military personnel to help contain the outbreak, which continues to spread throughout the region. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has pleaded for the United States to also send local health workers, as there has been a reluctance to respond to the crisis out of concern for the lack of protective equipment. In Liberia alone, 152 health care workers have been infected with Ebola since the outbreak and 79 of those have died.

Flights in and out of the affected countries have been banned and borders closed during the outbreak, but officials are looking to lift these bans in the coming days as they are significantly slowing the flow of aid and protective gear.

Read more from The Age.

Read more from the BBC.

Opinion: Are Australians at risk?

Ebola is a disease spread through direct contact with blood or the transfer of bodily fluids and the first-stage symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, muscle pain and headaches, take anywhere from two days up to three weeks to develop after contracting the virus. There is no specific treatment for the disease and the death rate is between 50 per cent and 90 per cent.

The disease has currently spread to five countries throughout Western Africa, but it is believed that the outbreak has been contained to just these countries and strict rules are in place to prevent further spread of the disease, with flights banned and borders closed.

With borders expected to re-open in the affected countries over the coming days, the chance of further spread increases, but protocols should be sufficient to contain the disease. We should all be concerned about the outbreak and the affect it is having on Western Africa, but the chances of the disease spreading to Australia is highly unlikely.

Should Australia join the United States and Britain in sending aid to contain this serious outbreak which could potentially affect the whole world?


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    9th Sep 2014
    It would be interesting to know what protocols would be sufficient to contain Ebola in these countries. I'm not convinced. I can't imagine a full-stop on sex and would think condom usage would be minimal. Aid workers should be quarantined upon return to their respective countries.
    9th Sep 2014
    Given that transmission is usually through direct contact with infected blood and other body fluids through open wounds or mucous membranes (eyes, nose mouth for example), there needs to be more basic personal infection control protocols in place; so the use of gloves, aprons, masks and goggles for example and plenty of water for hand washing. Therefore, an injection of equipment is needed. Yes condoms are useful - interestingly the virus can be found in semen up to seven weeks after the person recovers from the illness. Assuming they do recover of course, most don't.
    9th Sep 2014
    My wife and I sponsor a child in Sierra Leone in an area where Ebola is active. So our concern is both about Humanity in general but also on a personal level.

    I think as :biddi" says that it would be very hard to stop sex completely but bodily fluids is a larger container than just sexual fluids, it would include such things as breast milk, urine, mucus, saliva, tears, and sweat. So even the water that people drink in certain areas could be carrying the disease if people also wash themselves, their clothing, and children in. Faecal contamination of food and water supplies could also be of concern. Even the natural act of breast feeding a child could be a pathway.

    I think the world has been lucky to a degree in that previous outbreaks have been isolated mostly physically but with the increasing ease of movement of people the natural barriers to spread have become more easily breached and thus we have a more widespread and difficult outbreak to control. This is perhaps a wake up call about our vulnerability to the spread of serious diseases worldwide. Multi resistant TB, Malaria, and others pose significant threats to our human population. The most effective answers are perhaps finding the treatments/vaccines that control or cure these diseases, and our Governments (World) need to spend a reasonable amount of our taxes in helping to find these answers. Small Pox eradication was a victory for the World, but the Flu after WW1 was definitely a loss and perhaps it's lesson was not at all well learnt.
    9th Sep 2014
    Protocols will not stop the spread of Ebola. Keep the borders closed/controlled. I know it is hard considering that one could walk through the jungle to the next country. Borders should be open to those who are care workers, Doctors etc and equipment. I can understand the hesitation in not volunteering to go, but if people to volunteer then the country the person belongs to should undertake to look after the family of the volunteer if they are infected and die. This may help get more volunteers to go and help.
    9th Sep 2014
    Yes, Australia should also help to aid in the containing of the virus, after all we help in countries that have nothing to do with us in other respects, like the war in Iraq.
    This is a humanitarian issue than concerns the whole world and an issue of self preservation that would not cost as much as sending weapons to kill.
    9th Sep 2014
    I think BB1 is right and the control of the borders in the countries affected is the best way to avoid contamination.
    9th Sep 2014
    It's Sad in what's Happening over there and I agree Border Control should be a Priority .
    9th Sep 2014
    The Question...... Should Australia join the United States and Britain in sending aid to contain this serious outbreak? Someone just refresh my memory as to what in hells name the United Nations and the World Health Organisation is for?
    13th Sep 2014
    They should Merge into UNWHO ??..
    9th Sep 2014
    Yes, it is a humanitarian necessity. They need all the help they can get. Thank God for the wonderful volunteers who put their lives on the line. "Greater love hath no man, than he lay down his life for another".
    10th Sep 2014
    The question is not so much as will it reach our shores but whether the government has allowed quantities into the country for research and testing at the Animal Research Laboratory Geelong Victoria. It is a research and testing laboratory and it would be interesting to know just what is being tested. the public is not allowed to know
    10th Sep 2014
    At the moment they are testing a Street Directory for Lost Dogs ...
    17th Sep 2014
    :) Could be right particolor but apart from your comment, I make the point it is a serious matter regarding what is being tested and the public is not aware. Despite the best efforts to ensure safety it does not rule out incidents. A couple of years ago there was a serious incident and it was fortunate that the safety precautions worked.
    However, no safety system can be guaranteed as 100% and this testing centre is only a short distance from the Geelong CBA and it is only metres from the residential areas. If it was necessary to have this laboratory then I believe it should have been built a considerable distance fro a population centre. Geelong population is 220,000 plus. Is this responsible government decision making?
    18th Sep 2014
    It seems strange that they are burying the bodies surely that would just spread the disease, would it not be better to burn ?
    18th Sep 2014
    While I am not a medico I understand that burying the bodies in quick lime destroys everything. If that is correct then it is a sound way to destroy the disease. Perhaps a qualified person might like to comment. I know that many years ago when farming this was a method to destroy carcases carrying disease
    19th Sep 2014
    Yes I guess that might be right Prof' lets hope so
    18th Sep 2014
    oops. Notice CBA error. Should be CBD (central business district and another one fro should be from. :( Sometimes my fingers don't hit the keyboard hard enough. Sorry about that

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