In Places Scrubbed of Ebola, Virus Rears Its Head

Health officials warn Ebola's erratic spread is out of control
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2014 1:26 PM CDT
In Places Scrubbed of Ebola, Virus Rears Its Head
A health worker, left, uses a thermometer to screen a man at a makeshift road block run by Guinean security forces outside the town of Forecariah, Guinea. Doctors Without Borders shuttered one of its treatment centers in Guinea in May.    (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah)

Just months ago, Doctors Without Borders was packing up its bags and leaving an Ebola-free region in Guinea; that site, Macenta, is now the hotbed site of 30 new cases, in what the AP reports is a sign of the virus' resurgence. Health officials are declaring, once again, that the epidemic is out of control. Not long after Doctors Without Borders shut its Macenta clinic, new cases popped up across the border and spread through West Africa to infect 3,600 and kill half that number. Now the disease has boomeranged back to Macenta, carried by Guineans returning home from Liberia to infect their communities. "Everything we do is too small and too late. We're always running after the epidemic," says a doctor with the group.

The Macenta case shows how erratic Ebola's spread—made worse by patients who hide the illness and travel at will—has been in the densely populated, interconnected region. Border closures, flight bans, and quarantines have only stigmatized West Africa, and insufficient responses to the outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia are undermining proactive measures in Guinea. "It's so important that we get it right in all places," which means isolation, tracing, and safe burial of the dead, says a CDC official. And that's not happening, as desperately overcrowded clinics continue to send the sick home without treatment and with kits of bleach, gloves, and pain killers, reports the Wall Street Journal. But some international relief is on its way: the European Union has promised $181 million to the region, while the US AID $100 million and 10 new clinics. (More Ebola stories.)

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