EU Countries Bracing to Deal with Ebola Threat

Written by | Monday, August 18th, 2014

EU and UN experts have said that the risk of the Ebola outbreak – a highly infectious disease that has killed almost 1,100 people in West Africa since February – spreading in Europe is “very low”. Still, they reminded the EU authorities that the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone could see infected people enter the EU before the virus is detected. The World Health Organization (WHO) based in Geneva, announced on Thursday (14 August) that Ebola outbreak “is expected to continue for some time” and that earlier assessments “vastly underestimate the magnitude” of the whole issue. Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a disease of humans and other primates caused by an ebolavirus. Symptoms start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus and they may eventually lead to bleeding both within the body and externally.

The disease has a high mortality rate, often killing between 50 percent and 90 percent of those infected with the virus. Ebola kills by causing multiple organ failure and has no proven cure, which has prompted a WHO panel to approve the use of experimental drugs in Africa as an “extraordinary measure”. Considering the severity of the situation, earlier this week, Germany became the first EU country to appeal to all its citizens to leave the worst-hit areas. On Tuesday, a 75-year old Spanish priest died in a Madrid hospital after being flown home shortly after he contracted the deadly virus. This has also rang alarm bells in European capitals who became increasingly worried that air passengers could enter the continent while the virus is still incubating in their bodies before the first Ebola symptoms appear up to three weeks later. To that end, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an EU agency in Solna, Sweden, has told journalists earlier this week that the EU needs to be prepared for such a scenario in which travelers arriving from Africa could contract Ebola virus and return to the EU before their sickness becomes obvious.

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