On September 16, President Barack Obama announced that elements of the U.S. military to go to West Africa to assist in arresting the current outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. After consulting with personnel from the Centers for Disease Control, the president said he wants a “major increase” in U.S. aid to the countries stricken by the diseased. The aid package will include troops and support personnel, health workers, community care kits and medical supplies, as well as materials for building field hospitals. Warning that the outbreak could go “global”, the president said "Men and women and children are just sitting, waiting to die right now." The CDC already has personnel in place in West Africa. Obama called it the "largest international response in the history of the CDC."
Commander of the U.S. Army Africa, Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams has been in Liberia since September 16 and will coordinate U.S. efforts there. U.S. military air assets will be used to transfer needed personnel and supplies to the region. The French military will be sending a contingent to nearby Guinea to build a military hospital.
“This is a daunting task, but here's what gives us hope. The world knows how to fight this disease. It's not a mystery. We know the science. We know how to prevent it from spreading. We know how to care for those who contract it. We know that if we take the proper steps, we can save lives. But we have to act fast," Obama said.
"Men and women and children are just sitting, waiting to die right now," Obama said.
"This is a daunting task, but here's what gives us hope. The world knows how to fight this disease. It's not a mystery. We know the science. We know how to prevent it from spreading. We know how to care for those who contract it. We know that if we take the proper steps, we can save lives. But we have to act fast," Obama said.
"We can't dawdle on this one. We have to move with force and make sure that we are catching this as best we can, given that it has already broken out in ways that we have not seen before."
So far, the disease has spread to five countries in West Africa, including Nigeria and Senegal. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are the hardest hit. Ebola has now killed at least 2,400 people, and thousands more are infected. Among the dead was a Catholic priest from Spain who served as a physcian in a Liberian hospital. "Today, there is not one single bed available for the treatment of an Ebola patient in the entire country of Liberia," said Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization's director-general. "As soon as a new Ebola treatment facility is opened, it immediately fills to overflowing with patients,"said a WHO statement. "The number of new cases is increasing exponentially," the WHO said, calling the situation a "dire emergency with ... unprecedented dimensions of human suffering."
The new U.S. treatment centers may house up to 1,700 additional beds. American military personnel in the region could increase by 3,000, administration officials said. In Sierra Leone, officials have declared a three-day curfew in an effort to arrest the spread of Ebola, citing fears that as many as 20,000 could ultimately be infected.
Evidence of the difficulties aid workers face was confirmed by tragedy this week. Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA), a Christian organization based in Colorado, confirmed that Rev. Moise Mamy and seven others serving in Guinea were murdered on September 16 or 17 in a town called Wome in southern Guinea. Wome is the town were the first infection of Ebola was first discovered. Among the dead were aid workers, government officials and news reporters.
Rev. Mamy was working with the Eau de Vie (Water of Life) Ebola awareness team, of CAMA – which is part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (The Alliance). Speaking for Alliance International, Jon Erickson reported, "Many places accepted [the awareness team's] teaching, but some villagers had heard a rumor that the [bleach they were distributing], which kills the Ebola virus, was actually the virus itself." Enraged, some of the villagers killed Mamy and companions. According to the BBC, their bodies were recovered from a septic tank at the local primary school in Nzerekore. The evidence shows that they were clubbed and hacked to death.
A journalist who managed to escape the carnage said that she could hear villagers looking for the aid workers to kill. The health minister of Sierra Leone led a delegation to Wome and the surrounding area but was unable to reach the village by road since a main bridge has been blocked. Government spokesperson Albert Damantang Camara said on September 18 that Mamy and the others were "killed in cold blood by the villagers." Six people have been arrested in Wome, which is now reportedly deserted. In August, a similar riot broke out in Nzerekore, following similar rumors.
WHO reported that in just one week, more than 700 new cases of Ebola have emerged in West Africa. There are more than It said there had been more than 5,300 cases in total and that half of those were recorded in the past three weeks. WHO has concluded that the contagion is accelerating.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) symptoms
Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
Current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%
Incubation period is two to 21 days
There is no proven vaccine or cure. There are some concerns that Ebola could mutate into a form that is spread by inhalation. In Canada, researchers recently Zaire strain of the Ebola virus – the deadliest form of the disease. Among the piglets, mortality rose to 90 percent. The piglets were then placed in a room where they were separated by wire cages from four macaque monkeys, a species used in laboratories. Within days, the piglets shows signs of Ebola infection. Ebola generally causes respiratory illness and increased temperature among pigs. Nine days after infection, all piglets appeared to have recovered from the disease.
Within eight days of exposure, two of the four monkeys showed signs of Ebola infection, while four days later, the remaining two monkeys were sick too. It is possible that the first two monkeys infected the other two. However, transmission between non-human primates has never before been observed in a lab setting. Evidence of infection found in the lungs of the monkeys showed that the virus was inhaled. Thus, evidence emerged that transmission of Ebola between species is possible. Researchers say how exactly that the disease spread. There are 3 candidates for the means of transmission: airborne, droplet, or fomites.