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Aid group: W. Africa Ebola outbreak like 'wartime'


BY SARAH DILORENZO AND JOHN HEILPRIN

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- The Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa could last another six months, Doctors Without Borders said Friday, and a medical worker acknowledged that the true death toll is unknown.

Tarnue Karbbar, who works for the aid group Plan International in northern Liberia, said response teams simply aren't able to document all the cases erupting. Many of the sick are still being hidden at home by their relatives, too fearful of going to an Ebola treatment center.

Others are buried before the teams can get to the area, he said. In the last several days, some 75 cases have emerged in a single district.

"Our challenge now is to quarantine the area to successfully break the transmission," he said, referring to the Voinjama area.

Many people may be hiding, but many are also finally beginning to seek treatment, as more centers open up.

Beds in such centers are filling up faster than they can be provided, evidence that the outbreak in West Africa is far more severe than the numbers show, Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for World Health Organization in Geneva, said.

There are 40 beds at a treatment center that Doctors Without Borders - known as MSF - recently took over in one quarantined county in Liberia but 137 people have flocked there, packing the hallways until they can be sorted into those who are infected and those are not, said MSF's international president, Joanne Liu.

"It's absolutely dangerous," said Liu, who recently returned from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. "With the massive influx of patients that we had over the last few days, we're not able to keep zones of patients anymore. Everybody is mixed."

The charity will have 300 beds available once several dozen open in the coming days, and Liu said it cannot possibly provide any more.

Hartl, of the World Health Organization, noted that an 80-bed treatment center opened in Liberia's capital in recent days filled up immediately. The next day, dozens more people showed up to be treated.

Liu likened the situation to a state of war because the "frontline" was always moving and unpredictable. She said the outbreak could last six more months.

"We're running behind a train that is going forward," Joanne Liu, the medical charity's international president, told reporters in Geneva on Friday. "And it literally is faster than what we're bringing in terms of a response."

The U.N. health agency warned Thursday that the official counts of 1,069 dead and 1,975 infected may still "vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."

It said extraordinary measures are needed "on a massive scale to contain the outbreak in settings characterized by extreme poverty, dysfunctional health systems, a severe shortage of doctors, and rampant fear."

Ebola causes a high fever, bleeding and vomiting. It has no cure and no licensed treatment and has been fatal in at least 50 percent of the cases, health experts say. The disease is usually found in eastern or central Africa, typically in rural, isolated communities, where outbreaks tend to be "self-limiting," Hartl said.

By contrast, the current outbreak spread quickly to cities and the capitals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, making it difficult to stop.

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capenurse August 15 2014 at 11:13 PM

Their isolation technic lto me looks wrong. Both workers in the picture should either be completely covered, mask over the nose, cap covering their hair. Looks like they have just completed caring for an ebola patient. They are then sitting down wearing the protective clothing they were wearing to take care of the patient. So effectively they are contaiminated until they have gotten rid of their protective gear.They are also contaiminating the pen and book that they are writing in.

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2 replies
Joan capenurse August 16 2014 at 12:09 AM

Nurse here, as well. My thoughts, exactly, when I first saw photos, a couple of days ago, of the workers sitting at that desk. I admire the workers for trying to help, but they need to be given isolation technique protocol.

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troll1141 capenurse August 16 2014 at 7:18 AM

The PPE only works when worn properly,
no wonder these idiots are gfetting the disease !

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purplistik August 15 2014 at 2:59 PM

RE-Think about re-starting another Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is an international health care organization founded in the United States in 1958. The SS HOPE was retired in 1974! Pass this thought ON .............................>

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Ma Fosz August 15 2014 at 2:25 PM

What is the difference between Ebola and a Terrorist ? ? ? Both Ebola and a Terrorist kill indiscriminately. It doesn't matter who they kill. But, a Terrorist will say they do it in the name of their god they can't even prove that is real.

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1 reply
Pat Kenmir Ma Fosz August 15 2014 at 4:02 PM

He is right :stevenjonessales: Ass*hole, OBAMA is letting in ALL those ILLEGAL ALIEN KIDS over our Southern Border and probably some of them will wind up being infected with EBOLA ! Coughing and sneezing on a truck load of other Illegals as they fan out across America. Then what? EBOLA right in YOUR BACK YARD THAT's WHAT !

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Jon August 15 2014 at 9:47 PM

Man, Obama is going to be surprised when he comes in from playing golf,turns on the news and sees this!

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goodgrief61945 August 15 2014 at 4:04 PM

A health worker wearing goggles, but no mask. Does he think he's going to get it in his eyes? No wonder the disease is spreading.

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ectullis August 15 2014 at 3:26 PM

You go Ebola

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Practical Nomad August 16 2014 at 5:49 AM

I wonder what they feel is so funny? The photo of the men carrying the casket and the man in the background show them all smiling/laughing.

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socraticknight August 15 2014 at 11:10 PM

let the virus run its course and ban flights and boats from the infected area. it is God's will that the world population is too great. it needs to be lessened significantly, or else food, money, energy, and other resources will result in more war, disease, and famine. naturalists and environmentalists understand that the virus is nature's way of dealing with over population and unethical use of resources. if zoologists accept widespread famine or die outs of animals due to overpopulation, why can't people accept the same with people in lands who don't know how to live? when the population of an area gets to a manageable size that will no longer burden the environment, then nature is in balance.

how many times will scientists be able to fight such viruses until the virus is unbeatable and the population is too great? how long can people feed others that keep multiplying until there is not enough food for every one, and mass human die offs and world war is caused?

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1 reply
James socraticknight August 16 2014 at 3:17 AM

Humans have never been self-policing and never will be. They will take, use, pollute and reproduce until this planet is a wasteland. I've seen a terrible decline in my own lifetime. I pity those who will come after me.

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fox news August 15 2014 at 2:45 PM

Those four slobs with the coffin REALLY look upset... Somebody prolly farted... Anyway, like they would give a #@$! Just more *&^% in an already-@#$%%$ country.

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mrior2 August 15 2014 at 11:30 PM

It looked like those dudes carrying that prop of a casket were getting a big kick out of it.

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