Poliovirus in Cameroon – update
In Cameroon, 2 new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases were reported from the East Region, with onset of paralysis on 26 June 2014 and 9 July 2014. Genetic sequencing of these latest isolated viruses confirms continued wild poliovirus circulation, gaps in surveillance resulting in undetected transmission and geographic expansion to new areas of the country.
The outbreak in Cameroon has been ongoing since at least October 2013. The outbreak continued into 2014, with international spread to Equatorial Guinea. In March 2014, WHO elevated the risk assessment of international spread of polio from Cameroon to very high, due to expanding circulation and influx of vulnerable refugee populations from Central African Republic (CAR). This risk assessment remains in place. Further undetected circulation in Cameroon cannot be ruled out. Moreover, the risk of virus spreading into CAR is considered to be particularly high given the large-scale population movements from CAR into Cameroon.
Thousands more Ebola cases in coming weeks, UN warns
Thousands of new cases of Ebola are expected in the coming weeks as the disease spreads “exponentially” through Liberia, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.
More than 2,000 people have been killed in West Africa by Ebola since the outbreak began this year, including 79 health workers.
The UN’s health agency has now warned the response to the crisis is “not having an adequate impact” and efforts to contain the virus must be stepped up “three-to-four fold”.
It added that a shortage of beds for infected patients in Liberia’s Montserrado county and the use of public transport by Ebola sufferers turned away from hospital would likely cause a surge in transmission rates.
In Monrovia, taxis filled with entire families, of whom some members are thought to be infected with the Ebola virus, crisscross the city, searching for a treatment bed. There are none. As WHO staff in Liberia confirm, no free beds for Ebola treatment exist anywhere in the country.
When patients are turned away they have no choice but to return to their communities and homes, where they inevitably infect others.
The virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids, or through contact with areas where contaminated bodily fluids have recently been left.
International response to the epidemic has been intensified in recent weeks, with more aid being pledged to affected countries and the imposition of stricter travel restrictions.
The British military has pledged to build a 50-bed centre in Sierra Leone and the US announced the construction of a 25-bed field hospital in Liberia at a cost of $22 million.
Liberia has been the worst affected with 1,000 deaths from the virus so far, while hundreds have also died in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The outbreak has a mortality rate of 55 per cent.