An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa is expected to continue for several more months, the World Health Organization said.
“We fully expect to be engaged for the next two, three, four months,” Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security and environment, said during a press briefing in Geneva today.
The death toll has risen to 111 with at least 101 people dying from the bleeding disorder in Guinea and 10 people in neighboring Liberia, Stephane Hugonnet, a medical officer at the WHO’s department of global preparedness, surveillance and response, said at the briefing.
The outbreak is the worst in seven years and the first time the disease has been seen in West Africa. Ebola causes high fever, diarrhea and vomiting, and can lead to internal bleeding. There is no specific treatment or vaccine for the virus, which kills 50 percent to 90 percent of those who contract it, according to the WHO. Prior to the current wave, a total of 2,387 cases led to 1,590 deaths.
People at most risk of infection are health-care workers, people attending funerals who come in contact with Ebola victims’ body fluids and family members of those infected, Hugonnet said.
First identified in 1976 in outbreaks near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Sudan, the virus is transmitted to people through blood and other secretions of wild animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, bats and porcupines, according to the WHO. Humans transmit the virus to each other through contact with blood and other body fluids.