More cases of Ebola in Europe unavoidable: WHO


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More cases of Ebola in Europe unavoidable: WHO
A protester holds a placard reading 'We are all Teresa' during a demonstration in support of Spanish nurse Teresa Romero infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Madrid on October 11, 2014. Spanish healthcare workers and unions complain of a long list of failings in the case of a nurse who contracted Ebola while treating two elderly missionaries who died from the virus. AFP PHOTO / CURTO DE LA TORRE (Photo credit should read CURTO DE LA TORRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters hold a banner during a demonstration in support of Spanish nurse Teresa Romero infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Madrid on October 11, 2014. Spanish healthcare workers and unions complain of a long list of failings in the case of a nurse who contracted Ebola while treating two elderly missionaries who died from the virus. The banner reads: 'We are all Teresa' AFP PHOTO / CURTO DE LA TORRE (Photo credit should read CURTO DE LA TORRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters take part in a demonstration called by PACMA (Animalist Party Against Mistreatment to Animals) after the dog of a Spanish nurse infected with Ebola in Madrid was put down, in Bilbao on October 11, 2014. Excalibur, the dog of Spanish nurse Teresa Romero infected with Ebola in Madrid, was put down on October 8 by health authorities who feared it could spread the deadly disease, despite a campaign to spare him by animal rights activists. AFP PHOTO / RAFA RIVAS (Photo credit should read RAFA RIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters hold placards during a demonstration called by PACMA (Animalist Party Against Mistreatment to Animals) after the dog of a Spanish nurse infected with Ebola in Madrid was put down, in Bilbao on October 11, 2014. Excalibur, the dog of Spanish nurse Teresa Romero infected with Ebola in Madrid, was put down on October 8 by health authorities who feared it could spread the deadly disease, despite a campaign to spare him by animal rights activists. AFP PHOTO / RAFA RIVAS (Photo credit should read RAFA RIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 10: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (Centre) gives a speech, watched by Madrid Regional President Ignacio Gonzalez (L) and Carlos III hospital manager Rafael Perez Santamarina (R) in front door of Carlos III hospital where nurse Teresa Romero is being treated for the Ebola virus, in Madrid, Spain, on October 10, 2014. 13 people are quarantined as a precaution in hospital following the admission of Spanish nurse Teresa Romero infected with the ebola virus. (Photo by Senhan Bolelli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 10: A group of health workers protest for the support of Teresa Romero in front door of Carlos III hospital where nurse Teresa Romero is being treated for the Ebola virus, in Madrid, Spain, on October 10, 2014. 13 people are quarantined as a precaution in hospital following the admission of Spanish nurse Teresa Romero infected with the ebola virus. (Photo by Senhan Bolelli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato arrives to meet regional health advisors to reveal the government's new measures in the fights against ebola virus in Madrid on October 10, 2014. Spain said Friday it was setting up a special government committee to coordinate the national fight against Ebola after a nurse in Madrid became infected with the deadly disease. The health minister and officials from several other ministries will form a 'special committee for the management of the Ebola disease in Spain,' deputy premier Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told a news conference. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters wearing medical masks take part in a demonstration in support of Spanish nurse Teresa Romero infected with the deadly Ebola virus and against budget cuts and privatisations in Madrid on October 11, 2014. Spanish healthcare workers and unions complain of a long list of failings in the case of a nurse who contracted Ebola while treating two elderly missionaries who died from the virus. AFP PHOTO / CURTO DE LA TORRE (Photo credit should read CURTO DE LA TORRE/AFP/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: Police move a supporter from the road during a demonstration asking for the resignation of Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato at the Ministry of Health headquarters on October 7, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had recently returned from Africa. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: Women protest during a demonstration asking for the resignation of Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato at the Ministry of Health headquarters on October 7, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had recently returned from Africa. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: A woman supporting public healthcare shouts during a demonstration asking for the resignation of Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato at the Ministry of Health headquarters on October 7, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had recently returned from Africa. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
ALCORCON, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: A Spanish nurse infected with Ebola is moved to Carlos III Hospital from Alcorcon Hospital on October 7, 2014 in Alcorcon, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had been brought back to the country from Africa. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
ALCORCON, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: Police escort an ambulance that carries the Spanish nurse infected by Ebola to Carlos III Hospital from Alcorcon Hospital on October 7, 2014 in Alcorcon, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had been brought back to the country from Africa. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
ALCORCON, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: A woman puts on protective gloves and mask before she enters Hospital Fundacion Alcorcon where a Spanish nurse tested positive for the Ebola virus on October 7, 2014 in Alcorcon, near Madrid, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had been brought back to the country from Africa. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
ALCORCON, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: A woman wears protective mask as she leaves Hospital Fundacion Alcorcon where a Spanish nurse tested positive for the Ebola virus on October 7, 2014 in Alcorcon, near Madrid, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had been brought back to the country from Africa. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
ALCORCON, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: A woman and girl wear protective mask before they enter Hospital Fundacion Alcorcon where a Spanish nurse tested positive for the Ebola virus on October 7, 2014 in Alcorcon, near Madrid, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had been brought back to the country from Africa. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
ALCORCON, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: A nurse talks to the press outside Hospital Fundacion Alcorcon where a Spanish nurse tested positive for the Ebola virus on October 7, 2014 in Alcorcon, near Madrid, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had been brought back to the country from Africa. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
ALCORCON, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: The Spanish nurse infected by Ebola is moved by ambulance to Carlos III Hospital from Alcorcon Hospital on October 8, 2014 in Alcorcon, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had been brought back to the country from Africa. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Ambulances and medical workers stand near an airplane carrying an Norwegian woman infected with the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, after her arrival at the Oslo airport Gardermoen on October 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO / STIAN LYSBERG SOLUM / NTB scanpix / NORWAY OUT (Photo credit should read STIAN LYSBERG SOLUM/AFP/Getty Images)
WUERZBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 07: A volunteer doctor who will travel to West Africa to help care for Ebola patients prepares his safety glasses during training offered by the German Red Cross (DRK) on October 7, 2014 in Wuerzburg, Germany. Over 1,200 people across Germany have responded to a DRK call for volunteers, while the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has also asked for volunteers from its own ranks. Countries around the world are taking increasing precautions and committing resources in the battle against the deadly virus as the number of victims continues to climb. (Photo Timm Schamberger/Getty Images)
WUERZBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 07: A volunteer doctor who will travel to West Africa to help care for Ebola patients is disinfectet during training offered by the German Red Cross (DRK) on October 7, 2014 in Wuerzburg, Germany. Over 1,200 people across Germany have responded to a DRK call for volunteers, while the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has also asked for volunteers from its own ranks. Countries around the world are taking increasing precautions and committing resources in the battle against the deadly virus as the number of victims continues to climb. (Photo Timm Schamberger/Getty Images)
WUERZBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 07: A volunteer doctor who will travel to West Africa to help care for Ebola patients takes a smear from an actor during training offered by the German Red Cross (DRK) on October 7, 2014 in Wuerzburg, Germany. Over 1,200 people across Germany have responded to a DRK call for volunteers, while the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has also asked for volunteers from its own ranks. Countries around the world are taking increasing precautions and committing resources in the battle against the deadly virus as the number of victims continues to climb. (Photo Timm Schamberger/Getty Images)
WUERZBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 07: Rubber boots are pictured during training offered by the German Red Cross (DRK) on October 7, 2014 in Wuerzburg, Germany for volunteer doctors who will travel to West Africa to help care for Ebola patients. Over 1,200 people across Germany have responded to a DRK call for volunteers, while the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has also asked for volunteers from its own ranks. Countries around the world are taking increasing precautions and committing resources in the battle against the deadly virus as the number of victims continues to climb. (Photo Timm Schamberger/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: Nurses' union leader Juan Jose Cano talks to the press outside Carlos III hospital where a nurse is being treated after testing positive for the virus Ebola on October 7, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had been brought back to the country from Africa. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
ALCORCON, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: A Spanish nurse infected with Ebola is moved to Carlos III Hospital from Alcorcon Hospital on October 7, 2014 in Alcorcon, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had been brought back to the country from Africa. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: Police stand outside a block of apartments where a Spanish nurse who tested positive for the Ebola virus lives. Her dog is thought to be at risk of being put down as health officials try to keep the virus from spreading, on October 7, 2014 in Alcorcon, near Madrid, Spain. Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato confirmed the nurse had tested positive after treating two Ebola patients that had recently returned from Africa. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - More cases of the deadly Ebola virus will almost inevitably spread in Europe but the continent is well prepared to control the disease, the World Health Organization's (WHO) regional director said on Tuesday.

Speaking to Reuters just hours after Europe's first local case of Ebola infection was confirmed in a nurse in Spain, the WHO's European director, Zsuzsanna Jakab, said further such events were "unavoidable".

Spanish health officials said four people had been hospitalised to try and stem any further spread of Ebola there after the nurse became the first person in the world known to have contracted the virus outside of Africa.

"Such imported cases and similar events as have happened in Spain will happen also in the future, most likely," Jakab told Reuters in a telephone interview from her Copenhagen office.

"It is quite unavoidable ... that such incidents will happen in the future because of the extensive travel both from Europe to the affected countries and the other way around," she said.

Several countries in the WHO's European region, including France, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Spain, have treated patients repatriated after contracting the disease in West Africa, where Ebola has been raging through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since March.

Ebola has infected some 7,200 people in West Africa, killing more than 3,400 of them in the largest outbreak of the disease in history. Cases have also been imported into Nigeria, Senegal and the United States.

Jakab said that within Europe, health workers caring for repatriated Ebola patients, as well as their families and close contacts, were most at risk of becoming infected.

"It will happen," she said. "But the most important thing in our view is that Europe is still at low risk and that the western part of the European region particularly is the best prepared in the world to respond to viral haemorrhagic fevers including Ebola."

Ebola, one of the deadliest diseases known in humans, can have an incubation period of up to 21 days and disease experts say it is only contagious when patients are displaying symptoms such as fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The infection is passed through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood, vomit and faeces.

A study by scientists tracking the Ebola epidemic and airline traffic data predicted a high risk of the disease being brought into Europe unwittingly in people travelling without knowing they are infected.

NOT UNEXPECTED

With case numbers in the West Africa rising exponentially, experts say it is only a matter of time before Ebola spreads internationally, but they stress the chances of sporadic cases leading to an outbreak in Europe, the United States or elsewhere beyond Africa are extremely low.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which monitors disease in the EU, said on Tuesday that while there was a small risk of travellers bringing Ebola in without knowing it, the region's public health authorities "can efficiently detect and confirm cases of Ebola virus disease and thus prevent its onward spread".

Jakab said the WHO's European headquarters was keeping a close watch on events and was in contact with every country in its region.

"If they see any need for support or advice, we are always behind them. We are well prepared. I really don't think that at this stage we should be worried about these particular cases," she said, referring to the case of Ebola spread in Spain.

"This was to be expected," she added. "We expected it in other parts of the region - and it came in Spain, but it did not come totally as surprise."

Asked whether she would like to see screening at Europe's borders of travellers coming from the affected countries in West Africa, Jakab said she did not think it necessary right now, but it may be something to consider in future.

"I know the United States is planning to do that, but in Europe it has not been introduced yet," she said. "It depends how the epidemic develops (in the future). This might be an issue to take on board and consider."

Spanish Nurse First To Contract Ebola Outside West Africa


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