The death toll from the outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa has passed 100. Health officials are working to contain the outbreak, which is reported spreading beyond Guinea to Mali, Ghana and Liberia. It has killed more than 60 percent of those infected.
As described by Laurie Garrett of the Council on Foreign Relations in an interview on PBS Newshour, the virus produces symptoms that are frightening to witness:
Ebola is an RNA virus, a very small virus that attacks the endothelial linings that maintain the integrity of your blood vessels, blood veins, capillaries, first little microscopic holes through which bits of blood and fluids will leak, but eventually larger and larger holes, until the individual begins to hemorrhage internally, and hemorrhaging blood through tears, from the mouth, from the nose, all over the body, so that they become quite frightening to see. And individuals will get a high fever. They may get blood in the brain, which will lead to even more insane behavior, a kind of deranged look in their eyes, all of which contributes to a great deal of fear. On top of it all, the fluids contain virus, so they're highly, highly contagious to the touch.
This is the first epidemic of Ebola in West Africa, and the worst since 2007. We talk to two experts on the disease to get a handle on the threat posed by the current outbreak.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EBOLA:
• Unprecedented Ebola outbreak crosses borders in West Africa
"Something's going on in the rain forest, because what these countries share is a special ecology, a special rain forest region, in which are the fruit bats that normally carry the Ebola virus harmlessly to the bat population, but can pass it on to other primates, which can be eaten by the humans, or to people, hunters that may be in the rain forests. And it's possible that we're getting multiple introductions, or at least more than one, across the region. So if something is going on in the rain forest that is why the bats are stressed and passing the virus, then we will see multiple rounds of reintroduction." (Laurie Garrett on Newshour)
• As Ebola spreads in Africa, how worried should West be?
Is it time to panic? The answer from health workers responding to an Ebola outbreak in West Africa that began last month is a qualified "No." Transmission requires such close contact that the chance of a widespread epidemic is unlikely. ... Residents of the Mali capital of Bamako took to the streets in anger over reports that several people suspected of having the disease were being held in isolation in their neighborhood. Anger also flared in southern Guinea, where people attacked a health center that was treating patients with Ebola. Senegal has closed its border with Guinea. Morocco has stepped up border controls, and France is asking doctors and hospitals to be on alert for signs of the disease. (USA Today)