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Ebola virus disease explained: Q&A

©IFRC/VictorLacken

©IFRC/VictorLacken

An outbreak of Ebola has left thousands dead in West Africa. The Red Cross, along with other humanitarian agencies, is working to stop the spread of the deadly and highly contagious disease.

1. What is the Ebola virus?

Ebola virus disease is a severe and often fatal illness – outbreaks have a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Outbreaks occur predominately in remote villages in Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests.

The first incidence of Ebola was in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks: in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo close to the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

The origin of the virus is unknown. The current Ebola outbreak is the largest ever documented, both in terms of the number of cases and the size of the affected area.

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Snapshots from Haiti : ‘Our home’

Haiti earthquake fiveFive years after a massive earthquake struck Haiti, British Red Cross work in the Caribbean nation is coming to an end.

Our recovery programme in Delmas 19, a small community in Port-au-Prince, is due for completion this year.

To mark the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, we gave out two cameras to youngsters aged between 8 and 20.

The brief was simple: capture photos that illustrate life in Delmas 19 and Red Cross work.

With a bit of guidance and schooling in photography along the way, these are some of their images.

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Spike in Sierra Leone Ebola cases “very worrying”

©IFRC/JariLindholm

©IFRC/JariLindholm

A spike in Ebola cases in Kono district, Sierra Leone, has served as a warning that the outbreak is far from under control. Nearly 90 bodies have been found in the district in recent weeks.

The Red Cross had already begun building an Ebola treatment centre in Kono. It will become the Red Cross’ second treatment centre in Sierra Leone, alongside the 60-bed centre in Kenema.

Norwegian Erik Lundblad, deputy team leader at the new Ebola treatment centre in Kono, explains how the Red Cross is responding to the spike in cases.

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Ebola outbreak: the surreal journey home

©IFRC/JariLindholm

©IFRC/JariLindholm

British Red Cross Ebola nurse Marjorie Lee has returned home to Scotland after one month of treating patients in Sierra Leone. It has been a difficult four weeks, but the 51-year-old wants to go back as soon as possible.

It feels surreal to be slipping back into normal life with all the preparations going on around me for Christmas.

Everything seems so far removed from the challenges facing the people I’ve just left in Sierra Leone. Christmas, I’m sure, is the last thing on their minds.

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Ebola: ‘Nothing can prepare you for the look in a patient’s eyes’

©IFRC/JariLindholm

©IFRC/JariLindholm

There’s no such thing as a good day when you’re treating Ebola patients, writes Sarah Robinson, a Red Cross nurse working in our Ebola treatment centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone. 

Whenever I get home from the Ebola treatment centre (ETC), one of the team members will always ask how my day was. I’m never sure how to answer.

Working in an ETC doesn’t seem to be a job where you can say you had a great day or an awful day. I love my job immensely; the national staff I work with and the patients I care for are all inspiring. I’ve learnt so much from them and I know I will continue to do so.

The multitude of daily challenges we experience make the job interesting and varied. Despite this, when the reply, “I had a good day” enters my mind, the words always stick in my throat.

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South Sudan crisis – staring into the abyss  

©ICRC/JacobZocherman

©ICRC/JacobZocherman

South Sudan continues to slip under the radar. The crisis in the world’s newest nation doesn’t generate the headlines that emanate from Syria, Iraq or the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, yet there are vast humanitarian needs in South Sudan.

It is one year since conflict erupted in the country. More than one million people have fled their homes. So why is the world so silent?

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