A fast-spreading outbreak of Ebola is affecting several countries in West Africa. Ebola is a highly contagious virus that causes fever and severe hemorrhaging . To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for the disease, which kills between 25 – 90 per cent of victims, depending on the strain of the virus. This is the first time an outbreak of this size is being experienced in West Africa across many countries, including Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The ongoing situation is having a major impact on health services and infrastructure, as most countries do not have prior experience with the disease. The Red Cross, working alongside health authorities and other partner agencies, is stepping up its work in the region to support affected communities. Currently, volunteers are being mobilized in affected communities to control the spread of the Ebola virus through raising awareness, delivering prevention messages, and identifying and tracing those who have come in contact with suspected cases. In addition, the Red Cross is also training volunteers in disinfection, household decontamination and sterilization of waste. The Canadian Red Cross has mobilized aid workers specializing in health and disaster response to the region to support response operations in affected communities. Canadians wishing to support the Red Cross response in West Africa can make a financial donation to the West Africa Ebola Fund online.
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