Health News of 2014-08-17

152 New cases of Ebola recorded in two days - WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said between 12 and 13 August, a total of 152 new cases of Ebola Virus Disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 76 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

A statement issued by the WHO and copied to the Ghana News Agency recounted that on August 13-14, some airlines and social media and traditional media vehicles expressed concern that air travel to and from affected countries was a high-risk activity for the spread of Ebola.

It said to correct this misunderstanding, WHO called a press conference at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva on August 14.

According to the statement, Dr Isabelle Nuttall, speaking on behalf of WHO said, “Air travel, even from Ebola-affected countries, is low-risk for Ebola transmission.”

Dr Nuttall further clarified modes of transmission for Ebola and emphasized that the disease is not an airborne virus, unlike influenza or tuberculosis.

The statement said the infection is transmitted to others through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person, such as blood, vomit, sweat, and diarrhoea.

It observed that even if an individual infected with the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) travels by plane, the likelihood of other passengers and crew coming into contact with the individual’s bodily fluids is very low.

The WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions be applied, except in cases where individuals have been confirmed or are suspected of being infected with EVD or where individuals have had contact with cases of EVD.

The statement said contacts do not include properly-protected health-care workers and laboratory staff.

It noted that temporary recommendations from the Emergency Committee with regard to actions to be taken by countries can be found at http://who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2014/ebola-20140808/en/.

It said on August 13, Heads of Global Information Systems for WHO, UN agencies, intergovernmental agencies, and partners met to continue mapping the EVD crisis and create an interagency common operations picture.

The statement said: “This will allow WHO and other organizations responding to the crisis in the affected countries to pinpoint where personnel and material should be concentrated for an effective end to the outbreak."

“The total number of cases is subject to change due to ongoing reclassification, retrospective investigation, and availability of laboratory results.”

It said the data reported in the Disease Outbreak News were based on official information reported by Ministries of Health.