STAMFORD, Conn. -- As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa intensifies and the death toll pushes to over 700, Stamford-based AmeriCares is sending emergency medical aid to Sierra Leone and Liberia, including personal protective equipment for health workers at great risk in the battle to contain the deadly disease.
Ebola has already struck down dozens of health workers, including doctors and nurses, in the region, the nonprofit relief agency said in a statement.
AmeriCares has three new shipments underway, including an emergency air shipment to restock hospitals and clinics in Liberia, where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has made an urgent appeal for safety equipment for health workers.
The air shipment contains 20,000 pairs of gloves, 20,000 surgical masks and 60,000 surgical caps, among other medical supplies. Shipments of intravenous fluids to rehydrate Ebola patients are also headed to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“With over 1,300 people infected already and the virus spreading rapidly, there is virtually an endless demand for safety equipment,” Garrett Ingoglia, AmeriCares vice president of emergency response, said in a statement. “If we don’t support the front-line health workers, there is no hope for controlling the epidemic.”
In Sierra Leone and Liberia, where leaders have declared a state of emergency, health care providers report intravenous fluids are in short supply. AmeriCares is sending enough intravenous fluids donated by Baxter International Inc. for 3,000 patients in both countries.
The fragile health systems in the region are ill-equipped to handle a health crisis of this scale, and the shortage of critical supplies and loss of skilled health workers continues to hamper the best efforts to contain the disease, AmeriCares said.
AmeriCares first responded to the outbreak in May with the purchase and distribution of protective gear and medical supplies for health workers in Liberia as well as support for public messaging campaigns to spread awareness about the disease for which there is no cure.
Here are facts about the deadly Ebola virus, from AmeriCares:
- The Ebola virus has one of the highest fatality rates— up to 90 percent. There is no vaccine and no cure.
- Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with blood, body fluids and tissues of infected persons. Bodies can remain contagious for up to 60 days.
- Ebola has an incubation period of two to 12 days. Symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
- There are five strains of Ebola virus, three of which have been associated with large outbreaks of the virus in Africa.
To make a donation to AmeriCares, visit its website here.