Ebola Virus Kills 500 Health Care Workers, Safety Questioned

Aaron Turpen

More than 800 health care workers have been infected with the Ebola virus, and more than 500 of them have died from the disease, says the World Health Organization. The Ebola virus epidemic has continued to spread across Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, with more than 20,000 infected and 8,000 dead.

Health care workers in these countries are not always well protected, the WHO reports, and the Ebola virus is spreading primarily through funerals for the victims and poor protection of those caring for the diseased.

The 800 infections of health care workers reported this week is a jump in ebola virus infections from last week's WHO report. The WHO says that the additions are not necessarily just during the week-long gap between reports, but largely because of poor reporting in Sierra Leone that has been re-analyzed, they told NBC News.

One such incident happened late last month, when a Korean medical team was working with patients. One of them "jolted" after having blood drawn, and the bloody needle punctured the health care worker's glove, infecting the medic. That Korean, says Asia One, has so far tested negative in preliminary tests, but with a 21-day incubation period for the Ebola virus, the patient is not out of the woods yet. The Asian newspaper calls for an investigation and re-evaluation of protective protocols in the wake of the incident.

Yet many Ebola survivors are coming together, thanks to a new app, and say that they would go back and continue to treat the sick. Newsweek found one such group of survivors and their connection via a smart phone app created for the purpose.

Ebola virus numbers are chilling. The Russian news outlet TASS reports that the latest statistics from WHO have 8,220 deaths and 20,712 people infected. Most of those are concentrated in the three African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Of those, Liberia has been hit the hardest, with 3,496 deaths and 8,157 cumulative Ebola virus infections. Sierra Leone registers 2,943 deaths and 9,780 cases while Guinea has 1,781 deaths and 2,775 cases of Ebola infection. Nigeria has reported 20 Ebola virus cases, and a handful of other countries report less than 10, mostly from travelers who've recently left the infected zones.

Health care workers, many of whom are international volunteers and military personnel, are at increased risk as the virus spreads. Further geopolitical complications have come into play, as the Ebola virus is rumored to have spread to ISIS-held Iraq, reports the Inquisitr.