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West Africa vulnerable to new major Ebola outbreak as vigilance fades

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  • West Africa vulnerable to new major Ebola outbreak as vigilance fades

    By Kieran Guilbert
    DAKAR, March 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The three West African nations ravaged by Ebola could struggle to prevent another major outbreak as vigilance fades among health workers and the public, a health expert said on Monday.
    Ebola victims in recent flare-ups in Liberia and Sierra Leone were inspected by health workers who were not wearing protective clothing, while the corpse of one woman victim was washed by several people, contrary to best practice.
    Health facilities must reinforce infection prevention and control measures or risk widening the spread of new Ebola outbreaks, according to Armand Sprecher, public health specialist at medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
    Communities must also help to keep Ebola at bay by avoiding old habits that can transmit the disease, such as eating bushmeat, caring for the ill and touching the dead, he said. "It wasn't so long ago that Ebola was a real and present danger, yet many people have reverted to traditional practices," Sprecher told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, two years after the world's worst Ebola outbreak was first declared in Guinea.
    "It is surprising that the ordeal they went through has not been enough to maintain a change in behaviour in the long term."