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Deadly Disease
Death Toll from Ebola Virus Climbs

The World Health Organization reports that there are now 208 confirmed cases of Ebola virus in Guinea and Liberia. The death toll has risen to 136 in Guinea, including 16 health care workers, and to six in Liberia. According to WaPo, Guinean officials expressed optimism about the success of the country’s containment policies, but as of this week their hopes have been disappointed. The fatality rate now stands at at a horrifying 86 percent. There are two small pieces of good news, however: Tests of 19 suspected cases in Sierra Leone came back negative, as have tests of 10 suspected cases in Mali.

The World Health Organization has set up a hotline for people with questions about the virus, in order to combat the spread of misinformation and panic. That’s difficult to do in the face of a deadly epidemic: A group from Médecins sans Frontières had to stop operating in a hospital in Guinea for a time after locals accused them of transporting the virus into the country.

Ebola is a devastating killer with no cure, and it’s important for the international community to invest in preventative measures as well as in the development of a cure. The fact that the disease hasn’t spread to any other country is a sign that the various governments and health care organizations are doing something right, but the world will always have to be on the lookout for potential pandemics.  Last month, a flight from Guinea to France was quarantined due to a suspected case, and more recently, a Malaysian man who traveled to the United Arab Emirates brought the MERS virus back home with him. With modern air travel, every country in the world is Guinea’s or the UAE’s next-door neighbor. That’s why we must make sure that the correct health information travels faster than the disease.

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