Ebola death toll rises; CDC issues highest state of alert
(CNN) — A nurse in Nigeria. A businessman in Saudi Arabia. A Spanish priest in Liberia.
With the World Health Organization announcing Wednesday that 932 deaths had been reported or confirmed as a result of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Saudi Arabia joined the list of countries with suspected cases.
“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.
Nearly all of those deaths have been in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where more than 1,700 cases have been reported, according to WHO. The agency said 108 new cases were reported between Saturday and Monday in those countries and Nigeria.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has declared a state of emergency for 90 days because of the deadly outbreak, her office announced Wednesday.
“The scope and scale of the epidemic, the virulence and deadliness of the virus now exceed the capacity and statutory responsibility of any one government agency or ministry,” she said in a written statement. “The government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people.”
She said Ebola is a “clear and present danger.”
Concerns about the spread of the deadly virus escalated with Saudi Arabia reporting that a man died, apparently of the virus, after a trip to Sierra Leone, and Nigeria reported that a nurse died after treating someone believed to have contracted Ebola in Liberia.
WHO did not immediately confirm the deaths, and its count of Ebola cases does not include the two.
The Saudi man died Wednesday at a specialized hospital in Jeddah, the Saudi Ministry of Health said.
He had been in intensive care since late Monday “after exhibiting symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever following a business trip to Sierra Leone,” the ministry said in a statement.
The nurse in Nigeria had helped care for Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American man, who died in Nigeria after traveling there from Liberia, Nigeria’s Ministry of Health said Wednesday.
The news of the nurse’s death came the same day that Nigeria confirmed another five cases of Ebola, the Health Ministry said.
Meanwhile, a Spanish priest who contracted the disease in Liberia arrived at Torrejon military air base in Madrid on Thursday.
Spain’s Ministry of Defense used a medically equipped Airbus A310 to transport Brother Miguel Pajares to Madrid, who will be treated at Madrid’s La Paz hospital, Spanish officials said.
He is the first Ebola patient to be evacuated to Europe.
In the United States, two patients are being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta: American doctor Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who had been in Liberia. Emory is one of four U.S. institutions capable of providing such treatment.
Writebol arrived in Atlanta on Tuesday, just days after Brantly arrived.
“We were able to spend a few minutes with her to encourage her and be encouraged by her condition,” Writebol’s son, Jeremy, said in a statement.
A male patient at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York has tested negative for Ebola, the hospital announced Wednesday. The patient, who had a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, is improving and is listed in stable condition, the hospital said in a written statement.
The man became ill after recently traveling to West Africa. A specimen from the patient was delivered Tuesday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which confirmed he didn’t have Ebola.
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