Borders closing over Ebola fears

Updated 6:18 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014

Story highlights

NEW: Nigerian officials report two new cases, bringing total in that country to 14

Senegal has closed its borders with Guinea over fears about the Ebola outbreak

So far, 2,473 suspected Ebola cases haven been reported to WHO

Ebola outbreak has been vastly underestimated, WHO says

(CNN) —  

The West African country of Senegal has closed its borders with Guinea over fears that the Ebola outbreak could spread, according to the Senegalese Interior Ministry. The closure includes any aircraft and ships traveling to Senegal from Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia.

Senegal is located to the northwest of Guinea, which as of August 20 had 579 suspected Ebola cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Sierra Leone and Liberia border Guinea to the southwest. Those three nations have been the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak.

So far, 2,473 suspected cases have been reported to WHO from those three countries and Nigeria. Nigeria now has a total of four Ebola patients under treatment at an isolation ward, bringing the total number of reported cases in the country to 14, officials said.

More than half of the patients in the outbreak have died. It’s the largest Ebola outbreak on record.

And still, WHO says, the numbers don’t tell the whole picture.

“The magnitude of the Ebola outbreak, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone, has been underestimated for a number of reasons,” the organization said in a statement Friday. “Many families hide infected loved ones in their homes.

“Others deny that a patient has Ebola and believe that care in an isolation ward – viewed as an incubator of the disease – will lead to infection and certain death. Most fear the stigma and social rejection that come to patients and families when a diagnosis of Ebola is confirmed.”

Corpses in these countries are being buried without determining cause of death, WHO says. Medical staff cannot keep up with the current demand, especially with the limited supplies they have on hand.