WHO Labels Ebola Outbreak Rare Global Emergency

Requires 'extraordinary response' by world community

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 8, 2014 8:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – The World Health Organization has ratcheted up the alarm over Africa's Ebola epidemic. More than 900 deaths across Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea, and Sierra Leone mean this is now an "international emergency" that requires an "extraordinary response," reports the BBC. The move is just the third time WHO has made that kind of declaration since putting the language in place in 2007, notes the New York Times. It comes a day after the CDC raised its Ebola alert to the highest level. Developments:

  • The agency did not call for a travel ban, but labeled this "the largest, most severe, most complex outbreak in the nearly four-decade history of the disease." It wants all affected nations to declare states of emergency and to rigorously screen travelers.
  • WHO says it will convene a meeting perhaps as early as Monday to discuss the use of experimental drugs like ZMapp, which was given to the two American patients being treated in Atlanta. "We need to ask medical ethicists to give us guidance on what the responsible thing to do is," the WHO says, per the Washington Post. Even if such drugs are cleared, it could take months to manufacture and distribute them in West Africa.
  • In that vein, the FDA has rushed approval of an "in vitro diagnostic test" that helps detect the Ebola strain, to be used on individuals that may have come in contact with the virus.

WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan addresses the Ebola epidemic.
WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan addresses the Ebola epidemic.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)
This undated photo shows the Ebola virus viewed through an electron microscope.
This undated photo shows the Ebola virus viewed through an electron microscope.   (AP Photo/Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine)
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