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Ebola Outbreak Shakes West Africa

Africa’s wrestling with a new Ebola outbreak.  We’ll look at what’s happening, and the efforts to keep this from going global.

Health workers teach people about the Ebola virus and how to prevent infection, in Conakry, Guinea, Monday, March 31, 2014. Health authorities in Guinea are facing an "unprecedented epidemic" of Ebola, the international aid group Doctors Without Borders warned Monday as the death toll from the disease that causes severe bleeding reached 78. (AP)

Health workers teach people about the Ebola virus and how to prevent infection, in Conakry, Guinea, Monday, March 31, 2014. Health authorities in Guinea are facing an “unprecedented epidemic” of Ebola, the international aid group Doctors Without Borders warned Monday as the death toll from the disease that causes severe bleeding reached 78. (AP)

There’s always Ebola somewhere in Africa.  The fear, panic, comes when it jumps from the wild to humans.  Ebola is fierce and deadly.  Terrible hemorrhaging and then, swiftly, almost certainly, death.  Touch the fluids and you’re in trouble too.  Family and healthcare workers, first in line for deadly danger.  Right now in West Africa, Guinea, Ebola has come out of the boondocks and into the capitol city of two million.  Epidemic is the word.  France is on alert for spread.  Canada’s had a scare.  Guinea is struggling.  This hour On Point:  the new Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and where it goes.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Misha Hussain, West and Central Africa correspondent for the Thomson Reuters Foundation. (@mishahussain)

Dr. Armand Sprecher, public health specialist, emergency physician and epidemiologist with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).  (@agsprecher)

Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, professor in the department of Immunology and Microbial Science at the Scripps Research Institute. Director of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium.

Dr. David Heymann, head of the Centre on Global Health Security in London. Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Ebola Reaches Capital of Guinea, Stirring Fears — “An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the West African nation of Guinea has reached the crowded capital, Conakry, prompting new fears about its spread, health officials said Tuesday.Over the past month, the disease has traveled from Guinea’s remote forest regions near the Liberia and Sierra Leone borders and has already killed 83 people, including four in Conakry.”

NPR: Why Is Guinea’s Ebola Outbreak So Unusual? — “What is also important is to inform the population about the disease. This is the first time Ebola is detected in Guinea, so the population and the medical staff don’t know the disease. They need to be [told] how the disease is spread and how you can protect yourself, and what you need to do when you or somebody else has the symptoms (meaning that you have to go to an area where you can be isolated).”

Reuters: Miners in lock-down in Guinea as Ebola death toll hits 84 — “Foreign mining firms have locked down operations in Guinea and pulled out some international staff, executives said on Wednesday, as the death toll from suspected cases of Ebola there hit 84. The West African nation’s government said four new suspected cases of one of the world’s most lethal infectious diseases had been reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 134.”

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