AROUND AFRICA: Ebola Roundup

October 9, 2014 at 1:39 am Leave a comment

Ebola Death Toll Rises.

U.S. Navy Lt. Andrea McCoy tests patient RNA samples for the Ebola virus at a Naval Medical Research Center mobile laboratory on Bushrod Island, Liberia. (U.S. Army Africa photo by Navy Chief Petty Officer Jerrold Diederich )

U.S. Navy Lt. Andrea McCoy tests patient RNA samples for the Ebola virus at a Naval Medical Research Center mobile laboratory on Bushrod Island, Liberia.
(U.S. Army Africa photo by Navy Chief Petty Officer Jerrold Diederich )

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to nearly 3,900, including Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with the deadly disease on U.S. soil.

Duncan, 42, who caught the deadly virus in his native Liberia, died Wednesday (October 8), 10 days after he was admitted to a Texas hospital. His death and reports that Texas hospital workers fumbled his diagnosis has sparked controversy and raised questions about how safe the United States is from foreign epidemics in the era of jet travel and globalization.

According to the World Health Organization , the total number of confirmed, probable, and suspected cases in the epidemic of Ebola virus disease (EVD) reported up to the end of October 5, is 8,033 with 3879 deaths.

Countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and the United States. A confirmed case of EVD has been reported in Spain, but because the case was confirmed this week — information on that case will be included in the next Ebola Response Roadmap update, the United Nations health agency said.

“The situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone continues to deteriorate, with widespread and persistent transmission of Ebola,” the WHO said, adding that reports of a fall in the number of new cases in Liberia over the past three weeks “is unlikely to be genuine.” The WHO report said that report “reflects a deterioration in the ability of overwhelmed responders to record accurate epidemiological data.”

“There is no evidence that the EVD epidemic in West Africa is being brought under control, though there is evidence of a decline in incidence in the districts of Lofa in Liberia, and Kailahun and Kenema in Sierra Leone,” the WHO said.

Decontamination workers treat patients coming out of the hot zone. U.S. Africa Command is supporting the effort by providing command and control, logistics, training and engineering assets to contain the Ebola virus outbreak in West African nations.  (U.S. Army Africa photo by Commander Peter Niles)

Decontamination workers treat patients coming out of the hot zone. U.S. Africa Command is supporting the effort by providing command and control, logistics, training and engineering assets to contain the Ebola virus outbreak in West African nations.
(U.S. Army Africa photo by Commander Peter Niles)

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is preparing to send as many as 4,000 troops to Ebola-ravaged Liberia to build new Ebola treatment units and manage the logistics of medical supplies, food, fuel and other commodities starting to pour into Liberia from donor nations and organizations.

The head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) told a Pentagon press briefing Tuesday (October 7) that the U.S. military mission to Liberia may take up to a year, according to Military Times.

Pentagon officials emphasize that troops will not provide medical care or have direct contact with Ebola patients. The military mission is to support civilian health care efforts through construction of new facilities, providing logistics support and training locals in prevention methods, Military Times reported.

Army General David Rodriguez, the AFRICOM commander said a headquarters for the joint force command, United Assistance in Monrovia, Liberia, has been created to provide regional coordination of U.S. military support to the U.S. and international relief efforts. Two  additional mobile medical labs were put into operation last week, to increase the capacity for rapidly diagnosing Ebola. And the command is establishing a training facility for Liberian health care support workers, enabling them to safely provide direct medical care to patients, Rodriguez said.

“As we deploy America’s sons and daughters to support this comprehensive effort, we will do everything in our power to address and mitigate the potential risk to our service members, civilian employees, contractors, and their families,” he general told reporters, according to a Defense Department transcript. “Preventing the spread of Ebola is the core task of this effort. This is a key requirement in everything that we do in this operation, and this applies both to our support efforts and the protection of our own people,” Rodriguez added.

U.S. Navy combat engineers known as Seabees survey the site for an Ebola treatment unit in Liberia. (U.S. Army Africa photo by Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery T. Stitzel)

U.S. Navy combat engineers known as Seabees survey the site for an Ebola treatment unit in Liberia.
(U.S. Army Africa photo by Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery T. Stitzel)

In other developments, a special Marine expeditionary unit based in Spain is deploying to Liberia, joining other U.S. troops in support of efforts to contain the spread of Ebola. Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Admiral John Kirby said Wednesday (October 8) that 100 personnel from the Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are deploying from Moron, Spain, to Dakar, Senegal. They will then move to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.

Navy construction engineers have been in Liberia since late September, clearing the ground for the first Ebola hospital.  A team of 15 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 traveled to Monrovia September 23, to provide engineering support including: conducting site surveys for projects such as hospitals, supply storage and training facilities for healthcare workers fighting the Ebola outbreak, according to AFRICOM’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

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Entry filed under: Africa, Aircraft, Disaster Relief, International Relief, National Security and Defense, Technology, Unconventional Warfare, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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