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Doctors without borders: Ebola is 'out of control'




BY SARAH DILORENZO

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- The Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa is "totally out of control," according to a senior official for Doctors Without Borders, who says and the medical group is stretched to the limit in its capacity to respond.

International organizations and the governments involved need to send in more health experts and to increase the public education messages about how to stop the spread of the disease, Bart Janssens, the director of operations for the group in Brussels, told The Associated Press on Friday.

Ebola has already been linked to more than 330 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization.

"The reality is clear that the epidemic is now in a second wave," Janssens said. "And, for me, it is totally out of control."

The outbreak, which began in Guinea either late last year or early this year, had appeared to slow before picking up pace again in recent weeks, including spreading to the Liberian capital for the first time.

"I'm absolutely convinced that this epidemic is far from over and will continue to kill a considerable amount of people, so this will definitely end up the biggest ever," he said.

Earlier in the week, Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, said the multiple locations of the outbreak and its movement across borders made it one of the "most challenging Ebola outbreaks ever."

The outbreak shows no sign of abating and that governments and international organizations were "far from winning this battle," Unni Krishnan, head of disaster preparedness and response for Plan International, said Friday.

But Janssens' description of the Ebola outbreak was even more alarming, and he said that he didn't think enough was being done to respond to it.

"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."

With more than 40 international staff currently on the ground and four treatment centers, Doctors Without Borders has reached its limit to respond, he said, even though the situation requires more.

"It's the first time in an Ebola epidemic where (Doctors Without Borders) teams cannot cover all the needs, at least for treatment centers," he said.

It is unclear, for instance, if the group will be able to set up a treatment center in Liberia, like the ones it is running in in Guinea and Sierra Leone, he said. For one thing, Janssens said, the group doesn't have any more experienced people in its network to call on. As it is, some of its people have already done three tours on the ground.

The governments involved and international agencies are definitely struggling to keep up with the severity of the outbreak, said Krishnan of Plan, which is providing equipment to the three affected countries and spreading information about how people can protect themselves against the disease. But he noted that the disease is striking in one of the world's poorest regions, where public health systems are already fragile.

"The affected countries are at the bottom of the human development index," he said in an emailed statement. "Ebola is seriously crippling their capacities to respond effectively in containing the spread."

Janssens said this outbreak is particularly challenging because it began in an area where people are very mobile and has spread to even more densely populated areas, like the capitals of Guinea and Liberia. The disease typically strikes sparsely populated areas in central or eastern Africa and so is less easily spread, he said.

By contrast, the epicenter of this outbreak is near a major regional transport hub, the Guinean city of Gueckedou.

He said the only way to stop the disease's spread is to persuade people to come forward when symptoms occur and to avoid touching the sick and dead.

"There is still not a real change of behavior of the people," he said. "So a lot of sick people still remain in hiding or continue to travel. And there is still news that burial practices are remaining dangerous."

Join the discussion

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dostramigo June 20 2014 at 11:37 AM

Another good reason for STRICT immigration laws to be ENFORCED.

Flag Reply +82 rate up
11 replies
loriann1952 June 20 2014 at 1:23 PM

Don't care about feelings and the PC police. Close our borders, now to EVERYONE or we will have another BLACK PLAGUE , 100 X's worst than before. Hold Washington accountable, NOW....

Flag Reply +50 rate up
8 replies
Ron June 20 2014 at 12:20 PM

give bama a chance , He will find a way to get the diseased bastards over here

Flag Reply +46 rate up
17 replies
cherylhaass June 20 2014 at 11:40 AM

1. Quarantine the area 2. Quarantine the area 3. Quarantine the area. The WHO and the UN are seriously needed to assist in the efforts to contain this outbreak by strictly enforcing said quarantine until the outbreak is over. To protect ourselves, here in the US, we MUST blockade ALL entry from western Africa, particularly by plane, since the disease can incubate for up to 3 weeks in humans. Other primates, swine, and fruit bats must be prohibited from entering the US until the outbreak is controlled. WE MUST PULL OUR HEADS OUT OF THE SAND, and recognize that the world is dangerous!

Flag Reply +38 rate up
8 replies
maggiemoe1950 June 20 2014 at 11:42 AM

The Pale Horse – “There Shall Be Pestilences…”

The pale horse and rider, last of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, will bring disease pandemics of epic proportion. Altering the course of history in a profound way, the reach of the pale horse will not be limited to poor, underdeveloped regions of the world. It will also strike the world’s wealthiest nations. The ensuing chaos will affect millions, including you and your loved ones. You are about to learn the truth of what God foretells will occur!
Question ? Is mankind heading to THE END as GOD FORETELLS

Flag Reply +29 rate up
17 replies
stengernc June 20 2014 at 11:32 AM

Sounds like mother nature is responding to a call for correction to the mindless reproduction around the world which has caused over population, poverty, conflicts and wars. The only reason America needs a military is to protect the paranoia of the super rich who have tried to control the resources of other countries there by causing a backlash by the poor. Birth control and an elimination of the disparity of income is a must or we will see wars and mother nature taking out everyone.

Flag Reply +27 rate up
14 replies
syonack June 20 2014 at 11:32 AM

could the ebola spread to Europe or North America, in other words could this be the start of a Ebola pandemic

Flag Reply +17 rate up
10 replies
billcdaly June 20 2014 at 11:22 AM

Needs to be stopped now.
Hey, UN do something useful.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
8 replies
Rock Ranger June 20 2014 at 12:32 PM

Too bad the Somali pirates and street thugs don't contract Ebola.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
2 replies
STAN THE MAN Rock Ranger June 20 2014 at 1:37 PM

Along with having their peckers cut off.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
lulu.3 Rock Ranger June 20 2014 at 6:11 PM

EVERYBODY will go exactly where they need to go.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
coopdabomb June 20 2014 at 11:22 AM

I hope the CDC doesn't play with it

Flag Reply +9 rate up
5 replies
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