WELCOME REMARKS OF SECRETARY ENRIQUE T. ONA: NATIONAL SUMMIT ON EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE, 10 October 2014, Crown Plaza Hotel, Quezon City Plaza

Good morning!

It is with a sense of urgency that we are all gathered here today. We are now facing one of the most dangerous public health threats in recent history.

With no known cure at present, Ebola virus disease has affected more than 8,000 individuals, of which almost 4,000 died since March 2014. The countries most affected, namely, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, are hard-pressed in containing the disease. These countries, torn by internal strife, have systemic weaknesses in their health systems and severe shortages in health human resources.

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Ebola Update: What we know about transmission of the Ebola virus among humans

The Ebola virus is transmitted among humans through close and direct physical contact with infected bodily fluids, the most infectious being blood, faeces and vomit.

The Ebola virus has also been detected in breast milk, urine and semen. In a convalescent male, the virus can persist in semen for at least 70 days; one study suggests persistence for more than 90 days.

Saliva and tears may also carry some risk. However, the studies implicating these additional bodily fluids were extremely limited in sample size and the science is inconclusive. In studies of saliva, the virus was found most frequently in patients at a severe stage of illness. The whole live virus has never been isolated from sweat.

The Ebola virus can also be transmitted indirectly, by contact with previously contaminated surfaces and objects. The risk of transmission from these surfaces is low and can be reduced even further by appropriate cleaning and disinfection procedures. Continue reading

Ebola Virus: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Ebola virus disease?

Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often fatal illness, with a death rate of up to 90%. The illness affects humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the other in a remote area of Sudan.

The origin of the virus is unknown but fruit bats (Pteropodidae) are considered the likely host of the Ebola virus, based on available evidence.

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WHO declared Ebola Outbreak as Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

The first meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) [IHR (2005)] regarding the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD, or “Ebola”) outbreak in West Africa was held by teleconference on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 from 13:00 to 17:30 and on Thursday, 7 August 2014 from 13:00 to 18:30 Geneva time (CET).

Members and advisors of the Emergency Committee met by teleconference on both days of the meeting1. The following IHR (2005) States Parties participated in the informational session of the meeting on Wednesday, 6 August 2014: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

During the informational session, the WHO Secretariat provided an update on and assessment of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The above-referenced States Parties presented on recent developments in their countries, including measures taken to implement rapid control strategies, and existing gaps and challenges in the outbreak response.

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