The Ebola outbreak has now spread to five countries in West Africa, and the death toll is rising with no end in sight.
Top public health official, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called on global leaders to do more to contain the spread of the deadly virus after returning Tuesday from a trip to West Africa.
“This is not just a problem for Africa,” Frieden said, according to USA Today. “This is a problem for the world, and the world needs to respond.”
Other public health leaders and organizations also echoed the same sentiment. Médecins Sans Frontières said Tuesday that “the world is losing the battle” to contain the disease.
The World Health Organization last week announced that the Ebola outbreak could reach 20,000 cases. And another American missionary doctor, from the humanitarian organization SIM USA, contracted the virus while working in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.
Senegal announced the country’s first Ebola case, making it the fifth West African country where the Ebola epidemic has been reported. Ebola cases have also been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
The outbreak is also hurting the stability of affected countries. As many surrounding nations have closed their borders to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, this has resulted in supply shortages to hospitals and clinics. This is inadvertently impeding humanitarian efforts, as health care workers do not have enough resources to treat the growing surge of sick patients.
Food prices are also rising, as panic buying and hoarding ensues, and the labor shortage for the upcoming harvest season may cause thousands of West Africans to go hungry.
“There is still a window of opportunity to tamp it down, but that window is closing. We really have to act now,” Frieden told CBS News. “Too many places are sealing off these countries. If we do that, paradoxically, it’s going to reduce safety everywhere else. Whether we like it or not, we’re all connected and it’s in our interest to help them tamp this down and control it.”
So far, about 3,062 people have been infected, and the death toll is at 1,552. The Democratic Republic of Congo has also reported an Ebola outbreak, with a death toll that has reached 31. But the viral strain is different from the one affecting West Africa.
S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, http://Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at http://www.TheReporterandTheGirl.com