No alert from India yet as Ebola virus continues its invasion

With the Ebola virus taking a toll of close to 800 in West Africa and ringing alarm bells over the world about a possible new epidemic, Project HOPE, an international health education and humanitarian organisation, today said it has begun efforts to secure medicines and supplies for Sierra Leone, as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa shows no signs of abating.

The organisation is working to secure donations of a range of medical aid including antibiotics, oral rehydration salts, examination gloves and body bags, following a request from the Sierra Leone Ambassador to the United States in Washington DC.

The UN's World Health Organisation earlier announced that it would to launch an emergency response plan.

The WHO said "several hundred" medical personnel need to be deployed to the affected countries to help overstretched workers and facilities struggling with the epidemic.

Meanwhile, the US has joined countries issuing a travel warning against non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three states worst affected by the disease that is spread through domestic animals.

The US is also sending 50 disease experts to West Africa in the next 30 days, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said.

The outbreak, which began in Guinea in February 2014 and has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, is the most severe in recorded history, both in the number of cases and fatalities.

A suspected 1,323 cases with 729 deaths have been reported as of 27 July 2014, with 909 cases and 485 deaths confirmed to be Ebola.

Healthcare NGOs say they hope India's health ministry under Dr Harsh Vardhan is aware of the developments and takes appropriate steps to prevent yet another killer disease from entering India.

The struggle to contain the epidemic in Africa is reportedly being complicated by the soaring cost of hand sanitisers. The prices of some hygiene products had gone up sevenfold, making them unaffordable for many in the region.

"Hand sanitiser that they used to pay seven Liberian dollars for is now 50 dollars (US$0.54), and that makes even protecting yourself a huge challenge for very poor families in quite isolated areas," an aid worker said. 

Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the human disease caused by the ebola virus. The disease originates in the blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal, but it can rapidly spread from one person to another through bodily fluids, including semen.