Ebola virus, out of control in Africa, may be in Saudi Arabia

carrying out another ebola victim

The deadly Ebola virus is spreading rapidly in West Africa and the main concern is its spread from its point of origin and be carried possibly to other countries, including the Middle East.

With the death toll rapidly nearing the 1,000 mark, West Africa’s latest Ebola virus epidemic is already the worst outbreak of its kind to occur according to the World Health Organization and other international public health bodies.

Originally confined to three West African countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon, the virus, found to be as much as 90% fatal in some rural areas, has now spread to neighboring Nigeria with 7 cases reported resulting in 2 deaths. The spread of this deadly disease has been so rapid that a representative of the international medical organization Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) for Libera, Lindis Hurum, told the BBC that “Our capacity is stretched beyond anything that we ever done before in regards to Ebola response. We are definitely seeing the whole health care system (of Liberia) is falling apart“.

The only good news is that the American physician Dr. Kent Brantly, brought to the US for treatment, is showing improvement in his condition.

In the case of Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country, the virus arrived there when a US-Liberian passenger from Liberia arrived in Lagos showing advanced symptoms of the disease. He died a few days later; and a nurse who was treating him also caught the disease and died as well.

As of this writing, 7 persons in Nigeria have caught the disease with another 139 under observation. “We may have started too late in raising our alert for this disease” a Nigerian public health official was quoted as saying.

Although a vaccine to treat the disease is now undergoing trials, it may only be sometime in 2015 before it is ready to be administered to the general public, says WHO Director General Margaret Chan, who declared  the Ebola virus epidemic to be an “international public health emergency.

“Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own. I urge the international community to provide this support on the most urgent basis possible,” says Director General Chan.

West African health officials involved in dealing with Ebola in West Africa have a very difficult time in containing the disease; especially in regards to parents with small children and pregnant mothers. They say that parents are understandably frightened and stay away from medical centers through fear of coming into contact with the infection. Pregnant mothers are giving birth at home  at “the most vulnerable time in their lives”.

As to the danger of Ebola becoming established in the Middle East, it was reported by Saudi Arabian health authorities that a Saudi businessman returned from a business trip to West Africa with symptoms of the disease. What makes the fear of Ebola breaking out in the Kingdom so relevant is due to the annual Hajj religious pilgrimage due to take place in early October.

In the past, fear of other contageous diseases has haunted the event where up to 3 million Muslim pilgrims descend on the Kingdom for the 5 day event.  Saudi health official Dr. Khalid al-Marghalani said that that the man arrived to Saudi Arabia from Sierra Leone last Sunday night. Concern over the virus occuring in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj has resulted in officials not issuing visas for persons from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.

With Nigeria now reporting Ebola cases, that country with its large Muslim population may also be added to the list.  Diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)  are already plauging Saudi health authorties; so another and even more dangerous contageous disease is not what this country needs in respect to such a large influx of religious pilgrims.

Read more on Ebola and other dangerous virus diseases:

How Fast can Africa’s Ebola Outbreak Move to the Middle East?

Deadly Middle East Corona Virus May Come From Camels

MERS Risk and Hajj; How to Prepare for a Healthy Pilgrimage

Photo of Removing Body of Ebola Victim by Daily Express/AP

3 thoughts on “Ebola virus, out of control in Africa, may be in Saudi Arabia

  1. Maurice

    I’m sad to report that the death toll from this terrible disease has passed to 2,000 mark; with over 120 health workers succumbing themselves to it. Another strain of Ebola has now appeared in the Democratic Republic of Congo; although not related to the outbreak in West Africa.

    A spoksperson for the NGO Doctors Without Borders, was quoted as saying: “I’m afraid that this crises is going to get a lot worse before it gets better”.

    So now you still say this reporting is “scare tactics”, Elle? We all need to be more acutely aware of what is going on, instead of concentrating on more “politicized issues”.

    Reply
  2. Maurice

    Elle,

    Th epupose of these posts about Ebola is Not to freak people out but to make them aware of the dangers of this horrible disease; especially if it spreads to countries outside of Africa.

    |The mention of Saudi Arabia is due to it being the host country for the world’s largest annual religious pilgrimage – the Hajj. No matter how well equipped and sophisticated the Saudi health care services are, trying to cope with so many pilgrims (as many as 3 million) from all over the world is never an easy task. It can only be hoped that the Ebola epidemic will be contained by the time the Hajj begins

    Reply
  3. Elle

    I’m sorry to have to say this as I like this site very much. However, as much as the possibility of this disease spreading to Saudi may be real enough. If the authorities do not know or have not released valid information about whether the man who flew into the country has Ebola after this span of time, then this article supports further scare tactics rather than valuable information that will serve the public good.

    Here in the States, the mainstream talking-head media harps on scary, OMG! tactics that have absolutely no place anywhere in our world. Such so-called reporting does no good whatsoever. It does what it meant to do–PROMOTE FEAR. The people of this world do not need to be pumped-up by fear tactics from those who have control of the media simply because it’s a sensational story that can be further sensationalized to condition and control the masses.

    And, in the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

    Reply

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