WRAPUP 1-Obama appoints Ebola 'czar'; Texas health worker isolated on ship

viernes 17 de octubre de 2014 13:33 GYT

(Adds new Ebola death toll, scare at Pentagon, Texas governor's comment)

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON Oct 17 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama appointed a former White House adviser as U.S. Ebola "czar" on Friday as the global death toll from the disease that has hit mostly three West African countries rose to more than 4,500.

Amid growing concerns about the spread of the virus in the United States, authorities said a Texas health worker who may have had contact with specimens from an Ebola patient was quarantined on a cruise ship.

Obama, facing criticism from some lawmakers over his administration's handling of efforts to contain the virus, appointed Ron Klain, a lawyer who previously served as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, to oversee the U.S. response to the virus.

Klain's appointment and the cruise ship incident highlighted anxiety over the threat from Ebola even though there have been just three cases diagnosed in the country, all in Dallas, Texas. They were a Liberian, Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed in the country, and two nurses who were among the team of health workers caring for him up to his death last week.

The worst-hit countries have been Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where Ebola has taken 4,546 lives since the outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever began there in March, according to a new report on Friday from the World Health Organization.

That marked a sharp increase from late July, when fewer than than 730 people had died from the disease in West Africa. The virus is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person.

The toll on the worst-hit countries has gone beyond the illness, because of disruptions to farming and marketing. World Food Program said food prices in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had risen by an average of 24 percent, forcing some families to reduce their intake to one meal a day.   Continuación...