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Global health experts Friday declared the Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa an international health emergency that requires a coordinated global approach.
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are battling the Ebola virus, which has killed 932 people in those countries. The epidemic has also spread to Nigeria.
"The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and health facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in the currently affected and most at-risk countries," the World health Organization said Friday, after two days of emergency meetings.
The United Nations health agency described it as the worst outbreak in the four-decade history of tracking the disease.
"A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola," WHO said.
A WHO official said bogus information is adding to the rapid spread of the disease.
"Perhaps one of the most important factors contributing to this is fear and misinformation," said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the assistant director for health security.
"This is critical to understand, because what it is doing is that it helps foster suspicion and anxiety in communities, and when that happens we see a situation where people are reluctant to go to health facilities or maybe reluctant to bring their family members there. And it underscores the importance of communities being aware and understanding but we also see that fear impacts other countries."
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