As the Ebola virus continues to spread in several West African countries, here is some of the latest news about the largest outbreak of the disease in history.
- Current count: According to the World Health Organization, there were more than 1,711 confirmed cases of Ebola that resulted in 932 deaths as of Monday. The outbreak emerged in March in Guinea and shows no sign of slowing down. Most of the new deaths are occurring in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- Another death in Nigeria: Though Nigeria does not yet have an extreme outbreak of the disease, compared to some other West African countries, a nurse died this week from the virus and the country cited five other confirmed cases. The nurse had traveled to Liberia and died from Ebola in Lagos last month. The other cases are believed to be health workers who treated Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer who was sick when he flew into Lagos and died days later on July 25. Nigerian health officials also acknowledged Tuesday that they were slow in their response with Sawyer’s case and did not immediately quarantine him like they should have.
- Saudi national dies: A 40-year-old man from Saudi Arabia died in hospital isolation Wednesday after returning from Sierra Leone. He displayed symptoms of a hemorrhagic fever and tested negative for Dengue fever. Tests are still being processed to see if he had Ebola. Different types of viral hemorrhagic fevers have been found in the kingdom, but the ministry statement said no case of Ebola has ever been detected there. After the outbreak began earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced that it would not be giving visas to those from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea who might want to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.
- Liberians dumping bodies in the streets: According to Reuters, some Liberians are going against government orders and putting dead bodies in the streets, increasing the risk for disease spread. Information Minister Lewis Brown told Reuters that relatives of Ebola victims are asked to leave the bodies in their homes until officials can come by to cremate them and decontaminate the home.
- Soldiers head out in Sierra Leone: The New York Times reported that Sierra Leone is sending troops out to the homes and clinics to make sure infected patients and their families stay put. “Where there is a serious situation, the president can invoke military assistance to civil power,” Unisa Sesay, the director of communications for the country’s president, told the Times. “You have to understand that there has been a lot of lawlessness connected to this Ebola business.”
- Racing to find a treatment: Scripps Research Institute said its laboratories are investigating antibodies to fight the virus, three of which were used in the drug made by the company Mapp Biopharmaceutical, which was reportedly given to two American missionaries who were flown back to the United States from Liberia within the last couple of days. The team is specifically taking images with an electron microscope to better understand how the antibodies interact with and debilitate the Ebola virus.
- Is Ebola the “next big one?”: NPR interviewed David Quammen, author of “Spillover,” a book about the evolution of diseases like Ebola and HIV. Quammen said that while he doesn’t think this outbreak specifically is the “next big one,” it is a “a dress rehearsal for the next big one.” Why not Ebola? Quammen told NPR it’s unlikely because it’s not an easily transmissible virus. He said that viruses spread through a cough or sneeze, like the Middle East respiratory syndrome or SARS, would be more concerning.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.