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
WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan addresses the Ebola epidemic.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)

(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.

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Wayne Baumgartner
Aug 8, 2014 2:52 PM CDT
600 deaths is about the number killed in clinics and hospitals in America in TWO DAYS! That's from infections, nursing errors, doctor errors, misdiagnosis, over medicating, under medicating and wrong prescriptions. The range is 80,000 to 100,000 per year in America that are killed due to the foregoing. "Only" 50,000 or so, die on the nation's highways. Ergo, it is twice as dangerous to be in a clinic or hospital than on the road in your car!
Beverly Flynn
Aug 8, 2014 2:24 PM CDT
The WHO have labeled this outbreak of Ebola an "International Emergency" but will not issue a travel ban. May I inquire as to what it would take to actually initiate such a ban? But they turn around and highly suggest that each country issues a ban. Can you say "Pass the fvcking buck of responsibility? These countries are still pissing in dirt holes; you trust them to start and enforce a travel ban?
Aug 8, 2014 11:45 AM CDT