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Ebola Update: 467 Dead in Epidemic Surge

Jul 02, 2014 05:15 PM EDT
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Ebola has reportedly taken 467 lives as of Monday, worrying World Health Organization officials who had once thought the Ebola epidemic was coming to an end.

According to a recent WHO report, the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is the largest and deadliest ever recorded, boasting a 20 percent rise in total cases and a 17 percent rise in deaths attributed to the deadly viral infection over the course of last week alone.

Prior to this latest report, the WHO had proclaimed a death toll of 399 out of 635 cases, as of June 23.

Eight days later the number of deaths had climbed by 68, seven of which occurred in Liberia, where the outbreak is the freshest.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared that the Ebola outbreak has become a public health emergency in a public address on Tuesday. She added that citizens must heed health guidelines, and anyone hiding infected friends or family will be severely punished, according to Reuters.

"Let this warning go out, anyone found or reported to be holding suspected Ebola cases in homes or prayer houses will be prosecuted under the laws of Liberia," she said. "It is illegal under our public health law to expose the people to health hazard such as Ebola."

This is reminiscent of actions taken by the Sierra Leone Health Ministry, after the country declared a state of emergency last month.

At that time, the Health Ministry launched a campaign to help educate locals on the true nature of Ebola, as many believed the disease was a curse or similar paranormal ailment that could be cured with prayer or herbal remedies.

Another popular belief was that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol could prevent transmission of the virus, which is equally untrue.

Earlier last April, Guinea reported that the Ebola virus was nearly under control, as the number of cases began to sink. This, however, did not last, as the prevalence of the virus in Guinea's neighboring countries began to rise.

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