By Benjamin Flowers
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) submitted reports this week to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) on the outbreak of the Ebola virus and Chikungunya.
PAHO Director Carissa Ettienne and Director of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis Marcos Espinal made the presentations at the OAS meeting in Washington DC on Wednesday.
Director Etienne reported that Ebola “is spreading exponentially” in six countries in West Africa, putting at risk somewhere 22 million.
“Today, we have 5,800 reported cases and 2,800 deaths, but half of these cases have occurred in the last three weeks, and it is expected that this crisis will expand in terms of numbers and deaths,” she said.
She also recounted that the United Nations Security Council stated that the Ebola crisis in West Africa is “a threat to international peace and security.”
Espinal reported that while Chikungunya has a significantly lower mortality rate than Ebola, over 600,000 cases have been reported throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, and is cause for concern.
Espinal reported that there have only been 37 chikungunya related deaths recorded since December 2013 .
The Permanent Council will consider the reports tabled and use them as guides to make recommendations to the General Assembly of the OAS.
Countries such as the Bahamas and Trinidad have already had Ebola scares, which were determined to be false after investigation.
The disease has become an issue of concern for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which held a meeting last week to formalize recommendations in the event of an outbreak.
Earlier this month PAHO urged all Caribbean countries to take more aggressive measures to eradicate mosquito breeding sites to stop the spread of chikungunya.