Skip to main content

WHO: Ebola outbreak one of 'most challenging'

By CNN Staff
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Liberian election workers watch as a voter washes her hands before casting her vote during the Senate election in Monrovia, Liberia, on Saturday, December 20. Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate vote that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease. Health officials say the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the deadliest ever. More than 6,000 people have died there, <a href='http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/situation-reports/en/' target='_blank'>according to the World Health Organization.</a> Liberian election workers watch as a voter washes her hands before casting her vote during the Senate election in Monrovia, Liberia, on Saturday, December 20. Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate vote that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease. Health officials say the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the deadliest ever. More than 6,000 people have died there, according to the World Health Organization.
HIDE CAPTION
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
The Ebola epidemic
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mali says it has three suspected Ebola cases
  • Ebola has sickened 178 people, killed more than 100, WHO says
  • More deaths are suspected or confirmed in Sierra Leone, Mali

(CNN) -- The Ebola outbreak in coastal West Africa is still contained to Guinea and Liberia, the World Health Organization announced Tuesday, despite rumors of the virus spreading to other countries.

Cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, Mali and Ghana, but the WHO says none has been confirmed. Rumored cases in Mali are still being investigated.

The number of suspected cases in Guinea has grown to 157, with 101 deaths. Sixty-seven have been confirmed as Ebola. In Liberia, 21 cases have been reported, including 10 deaths. Five of the cases have been confirmed as Ebola.

The outbreak has "rapidly evolved" since originating in the forests of southeastern Guinea. The city of Guekedou, near the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia, has seen the majority of the deaths.

Twenty cases are believed to have occurred in Guinea's capital, Conakry, according to WHO.

"This is one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks that we have ever faced," said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director-general for health security.

What is Ebola and why does it kill?

It's the first emergence of Ebola in western Africa, which means doctors and health officials in the region don't have any experience with the virus. Outbreaks generate a lot of fear and anxiety, Fukuda said, which can lead to misinformation.

Dozens killed by ebola outbreak
Doctors work to isolate Ebola outbreak
Ebola virus spreads to Guinea capital
Guinea: Ebola virus spreading fast

The U.N. agency is trying to track people who had encountered the victims and make sure "that all those who have been in contact with infected people are being checked upon," spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told CNN last week.

There are about 50 staff currently deployed in the area and more are set to go shortly. They are working to prevent the spread of infection, primarily in health care facilities, and are sending personal protective equipment to surrounding countries.

"What is really important is to inform the population of Guinea and Conakry about this disease, as this is the first time they are facing Ebola," Jasarevic said. "They need to know what it is and how they can protect themselves."

The aid organization Doctors Without Borders has called the outbreak unprecedented, because previous cases have been limited to a small area.

Mali's government reported on its Facebook page last week that biological samples tied to three suspected Ebola cases within its borders were being sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for analysis. WHO said two of the samples have come back negative; they are still waiting on the other. Nine Ebola cases total are suspected in the country.

Ebola is one of the world's deadliest viruses, causing a hemorrhagic fever that kills up to 90% of those infected. It spreads in the blood and shuts down the immune system, causing high fever, headache and muscle pain, often accompanied by bleeding.

Close to 9 in 10 of the patients WHO health professionals are seeing with Ebola are dying, said Dr, Stephane Hugonnet, who returned from southeast Guinea last weekend.

"Ebola is clearly a severe disease," Fukuda said. "It is also an infection that can be controlled. ... We know very well how this virus is transmitted."

The virus is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), where one of the first recorded outbreaks occurred in 1976.

CNN's Miriam Falco, Jacque Wilson, Matt Smith and Anna Maja Rappard contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT