UN: Ebola Crisis 'Vastly Underestimated'

Outbreak calls for 'extraordinary measures,' it warns

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 15, 2014 3:24 AM CDT | Updated Aug 15, 2014 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The worst-ever Ebola outbreak has now killed more than 1,000 people, according to the World Health Organization—but the United Nations agency warns that its own numbers may "vastly underestimate" the scale of the crisis in West Africa. In a press release, the WHO says its workers at outbreak sites have seen evidence that the outbreak is greater than the 1,975 infections and 1,069 deaths recorded, and warns that "extraordinary measures" will be needed to contain the disease in "settings characterized by extreme poverty, dysfunctional health systems, a severe shortage of doctors, and rampant fear."

The WHO, which did not estimate the number of unreported cases, warned that the crisis could continue for months, CNN reports. At the heart of the outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, governments are trying to contain the outbreak with a tactic once used to combat the Black Death. But in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, no new cases have been detected since an air traveler became sick last month, the WHO says. Two people, however, have died and many others have been sickened after drinking a salt solution that was rumored to prevent infection, the BBC reports.

People wash their hands with disinfectant as a preventative measure against the Ebola virus in the city of  Monrovia, Liberia yesterday.
People wash their hands with disinfectant as a preventative measure against the Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia, Liberia yesterday.   (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
A Liberian woman holds up a pamphlet with guidance on how to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading.
A Liberian woman holds up a pamphlet with guidance on how to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading.   (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Liberian policemen dressed in riot gear disperse a crowd of people that blocked a main road after the body of someone suspected of dying from the Ebola virus was not removed by health workers.
Liberian policemen dressed in riot gear disperse a crowd of people that blocked a main road after the body of someone suspected of dying from the Ebola virus was not removed by health workers.   (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
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