Ebola Death Toll Climbing Toward 7,000 in West Africa

The worst outbreak of Ebola on record continues to take lives in Africa. The death toll is now close to 7,000 in West Africa according to the World Health Organization. Today’s total of 6,928 dead increased by more than 1,200 since WHO released a report on Wednesday.

Over 16,000 people have been diagnosed with Ebola since March when the virus was confirmed in the forests of southeastern Guinea. The regions of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia account for all, but 15 of the deaths in this Ebola outbreak, reports NBC.

Right now, Mali has no confirmed cases of Ebola after the last patient diagnosed has been cured. At one time, Mali had registered eight cases of Ebola, seven were confirmed and one was probable. Six of those infected have died. WHO reports that 285 people who came into direct contact with them are now being monitored, but have shown no sign of the disease.

In Liberia, there may be signs of hope, but in West Africa it is getting worse. A United Nations official on Saturday said it was going to take a lot more work to get it under control.

Three of the world’s top international leaders, Ban, World Health Organization director-general Dr. Margaret Chan, and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim used strong language to urge more cooperation and coordination. They also called for a faster international response to the growing epidemic.

WHO recently released new statistics on Ebola that show an “intense” transmission taking place in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

“There have been 15,351 reported Ebola cases in eight countries since the outbreak began, with 5,459 reported deaths,” WHO said.

WHO and other health experts have been tracking nearly 500 people who may have been exposed, which are directly linked to a religious leader from Guinea who died after he traveled from Guinea to Bamako, reports NBC News.

“This epidemic is not close to being over. Our end game is not near. There’s clear evidence of areas of progress, particularly in Liberia, where new cases have declined significantly. International support is making a difference. But there’s also evidence that is very worrisome, such as the increase in infections in Sierra Leone and the spreading of the outbreak to Mali,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.

In Liberia, leaders have reported some success with ‘safe burials.’ The bodies of those who died from Ebola are extremely infectious. Many people have been infected with the virus by handling the bodies of those who died from the virus. As the knowledge of the importance of following strict funeral procedures has spread, infection rates have dropped. But still the Ebola virus is easily outpacing the efforts to fight it.

Until this outbreak, Ebola has been stopped within weeks and that is after at the most a few hundred cases.

[Image courtesy of Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times]