The News Minute | December 16, 2014 | 6:40 pm IST
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that 6,841 people have been killed by the Ebola virus disease so far since its outbreak.
"A total of 18,464 confirmed, suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in five affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and the US) and three previously affected countries (Nigeria, Senegal and Spain) as of Dec 14. There have been 6,841 reported deaths," the WHO's report said Monday.
According to statistics, the maximum number of Ebola-related deaths and cases were registered in Liberia, where 3,290 deaths and 7,797 cumulative cases have been registered. Liberia is closely followed by Sierra Leone (2,033 deaths and 8,273 infected) and Guinea (2,394 deaths and 1,518 infected).
The first Ebola outbreaks occurred in remote Central African villages, near tropical rainforests. However, major urban and rural areas have been involved in the most recent outbreak in western Africa.
The WHO describes EVD as "a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent".
Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.
People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. The incubation period is two to 21 days. There is no known cure or vaccine for the disease. The only treatment offered is "supportive intensive care". During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are healthworkers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.