WEST AFRICA - Health officials have ramped up efforts to aid those infected with Ebola after a nurse who had been caring for a man with the viral disease died, and Nigeria was added to the list of countries with detected cases.
The World Health Organization said earlier this week the death toll in this recent outbreak is at 932. Other affected countries include Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 1,700 have been infected. There is currently no proven vaccine for the potentially fatal virus.
The CDC's Emergency Operations Center is operating at a Level I state of alert, which means it has more senior staff working to combat the illness. It hasn’t operated at that level since the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009.
A Level I alert is reserved for the most serious public health emergencies.
The CDC has deployed staff to the affected countries, according to its website. It is using a new software tool developed at the CDC, called an Epi Info viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) application, to pinpoint cases and find those exposed to the virus.
In the U.S., officials have “updated infection-prevention protocols for hospitals where travelers with suspected Ebola exposures may present for treatment; for aircraft crew and airport personnel; and for laboratories handling specimens from suspected Ebola cases,” it says on the CDC website.
“U.S. hospitals can safely manage patients with Ebola disease,” the CDC states. Two Americans infected with Ebola were brought to a hospital in Atlanta and are currently being treated.
In Nigeria’s capital, Lagos, the Lagos State Health Commissioner Jide Idris said the country needs volunteer doctors, nurses and environmental health workers to assist in tracking the contacts.