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Ebola: from local outbreak to global epidemic

What started as an Ebola outbreak in West Africa has evolved into a world-wide threat, with the first European case having been reported in Spain. Members of the European Parliament labelled the outbreak "a global security challenge" in a resolution adopted on 18 September and said that the international community has underestimated the crisis. According to the World Health Organization, 4,447 people have already died because of Ebola.

15/10/2014
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Miguel Pajares, who contracted the deadly Ebola virus, being transported to the hospital upon his arrival in Spain. The Roman Catholic priest later died due to the disease. ©BELGA/AFP PHOTO/SPANISH DEFENSE MINISTRY/INAKI GOMEZ
Miguel Pajares, who contracted the deadly Ebola virus, being transported to the hospital upon his arrival in Spain. The Roman Catholic priest later died due to the disease. ©BELGA/AFP PHOTO/SPANISH DEFENSE MINISTRY/INAKI GOMEZ
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The resolution adopted by MEPs in September called on the European Commission to intensify efforts to combat the outbreak. We asked Linda McAvan, chair of the development committee, and Giovanni La Via, chair of the public health committee, for their views on the crisis.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control described the transmission risk of Ebola in Europe as extremely low. McAvan said: "The rapid spread of Ebola in the worst affected countries can be attributed largely to poverty and the absence of comprehensive healthcare." Referring to the situation in Europe, she said: "We have the benefit of resources far superior to those in West Africa."

On 6 October authorities in Madrid reported a confirmed case of Ebola in a nursing assistant.. La Via commented: "the very high standards of health and preventative care" lower the risk of contracting Ebola in Europe, but it is not possible to avoid isolated cases.