Ebola continues its deadly march

  • Residents watch a French delegation led by Annick Girardin, the French development secretary, as they inaugurate the Macenta Ebola treatment center in Macenta, Guinea Conakry, Nov. 14, 2014. Girardin, who is on a three-day visit to the Ebola-stricken country, officially opened the Macenta Ebola treatment center, built by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and the French Red Cross and financed by France at a cost of 11 million euro (14 million US$).
  • Tombstones are seen at a cemetery at the Kenama ebola treatment center run by the Red cross Society on Nov. 15, 2014. 
  • A mother carries her child as they wait to see a doctor for a routine visit at the Kuntorloh Community Health Centre in the outskirts of Freetown on Nov. 14, 2014. Ebola-hit Sierra Leone faces social and economic disaster as gains made since the country’s ruinous civil war are wiped out by the epidemic, according to a major study. Damage to most sectors of the economy will see growth shrink from 20.1 percent last year to just five percent in 2014, the finance ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found. 
  • Grave diggers work at King Tom cemetary in Freetown on Nov. 12, 2014. Red Cross has been providing a Safe and Digified Burial, with teams of 9 or 10 elements including a Beneficiary Communicator, in charge of addressing the community, explaining how to protect from the Ebola virus and reassuring the relatives that all due respect for the dead body and grant them access to the burial. 
  • Health workers from Sierra Leone’s Red Cross Society Burial Team 7 carry a corpse out of a house in Freetown on Nov. 12, 2014. Red Cross has been providing a safe and dignified burial, with teams of 9 or 10 including a beneficiary communicator in charge of addressing the community, explaining how to protect from the Ebola virus and reassuring relatives that all due respect is given for the dead body and granting them access to the burial. 
  • A child under quarantine sits outside a care center in Lokomasama on Nov. 8, 2014. The biggest chiefdome in Port Loko province has 160,000 people and has been severely hit by the Ebola. The community decided to organize and fight the plague, building a holding center for suspected cases, enforcing a travel ban and the new laws, such as a 100 US dollars for a hand-shake or a 200 US dollars and six months jail for an illegal burial. 
  • Relatives of patients at Hastings treatment centre in Hastings, on the outskirts of Freetown, peek inside a building during a ceremony where 63 survivors at the centre were discharged, on Nov. 11, 2014. The center is run exclusively by locals.
  • Members of the Fofah family peek through the door as they observe quarantine at home in Takila Road in Freetown, on Nov. 7, 2014. West Africa’s regional bloc on November 7 called for international help to go beyond immediate medical care for Ebola-hit nations, warning that lives had been blighted by the epidemic. The raging Ebola outbreak has likely killed far more people than the 4,818 deaths reported by the World Health Organization, an expert at the UN health agency said on Nov. 6, warning that thousands of fatalities were likely not accounted for. 
  • Members of the Kagome family carry supplies delivered by the UN’s World Food Program as they observe a quarantine at home in the Dwarzac neighbourhood in Freetown, on Nov. 7, 2014. West Africa’s regional bloc on November 7 called for international help to go beyond immediate medical care for Ebola-hit nations, warning that lives had been blighted by the epidemic. 
  • A man suffering from Ebola virus lies on the floor outside a house in Port Loko Community, situated on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Oct. 21, 2014. After emerging months ago in eastern Sierra Leone, Ebola is now hitting the western edges of the country where the capital is located with dozens of people falling sick each day, the government said Tuesday. So many people are dying that removing bodies is reportedly a problem. 
  • Members of the Kagome family stand by their home with children in quarantine in the Dwarzac neighborhood in Freetown on Nov. 7, 2014. West Africa’s regional bloc on Nov. 7 called for international help to go beyond immediate medical care for Ebola-hit nations, warning that lives had been blighted by the epidemic. 
  • A burial team in protective gear carry the body of woman suspected to have died from Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, Oct, 18, 2014. The death toll from Ebola will rise this week to more than 4,500 people from the 9,000 infected and the outbreak is still out of control in three West African nations, a top official with the U.N. health agency said.
  • An UN World Food Program’s staff wearing a t-shirt reading “Ebola response” uses a cellphone during a supplies’ delivery operation in Lester Road in Freetown, on Nov. 7, 2014. on Nov. 7, 2014. West Africa’s regional bloc called for international help to go beyond immediate medical care for Ebola-hit nations, warning that lives had been blighted by the epidemic. The raging Ebola outbreak has likely killed far more people than the 4,818 deaths reported by the World Health Organization, an expert at the UN health agency said on November 6, warning that thousands of fatalities were likely not accounted for.
  • A health worker carries Benson, 2 months, to a re-opened Ebola holding center in the West Point neighborhood on Oct. 17, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. The baby, his mother and grandmother were all taken to the center after an Ebola tracing coordinator checked their temperature and found they all had fever. A family member living in the home had died only the day before from Ebola. The West Point holding center was re-opened this week with community support, two months after a mob overran the facility and looted it’s contents, many denying the presence of Ebola in their community. The World Health Organization says that more than 4,500 people have died due to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa with a 70 percent mortality rate for those infected with the virus. 
  • Aid workers from the Liberian Medical Renaissance League stage an Ebola awareness event on Oct. 15, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. The group performs street dramas throughout Monrovia to educate the public on Ebola symptoms and the handling of people who are infected with the virus, which has killed more than 4,400 people in Western Africa.
  • Red Cross members sterilize the around the home of Mambodou Aliyu (35) who died due to the Ebola virus, in Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 15, 2014.
  • A Liberian ambulance team transport the 70-year old Francis Konneh, a suspected Ebola patient from the township of West point in Monrovia, Liberia, Oct. 15, 2014. Latest statistics from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) placed the death toll from the Ebola virus outbreak at 4,447 with most of those fatalities in West Africa. 
  • Liberian red cross health worker with 10-month-old girl Asatu Kamba in Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 15, 2014.
  • The dead body of Mambodou Aliyu (35), who died due to the Ebola virus is seen on his bed in a house in Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 15, 2014.
  • Boys run from the blowing dust as a U.S. Marine MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor departs the site of an Ebola treatment center under construction on Oct. 15, 2014 in Tubmanburg, Liberia. The center is the first of 17 Ebola treatment centers being built by Liberian forces under American supervision as part of Operation United Assistance to combat the Ebola epidemic.
  • Health workers remove the body a woman who died from the Ebola virus in the Aberdeen district of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Oct. 14, 2014.
  • People walk past the Island Clinic Ebola treatment center on Oct. 13, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. 
  • Nurses escort Ebola survivor Wilson Weh, 56, from the JFK Ebola treatment center after he was released on Oct. 13, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. A planned strike at treatment centers was averted as most nurses and health care workers reported for work, many saying they could not in good conscience leave their patients unattended. Health workers have been asking for increased hazard pay. They are one of the most high-risk groups of Ebola infection, and nearly 100 of them have died in Liberia alone. 
  • A soldier from the Liberian Army’s 1st Engineer Company watches as a U.S. Marine MS-22 Osprey tiltrotor takes off from the construction site of an Ebola treatment center on Oct. 11, 2014 in Tubmanburg, Liberia. Liberian army soldiers and American troops are building an Ebola treatment center there, the first of 17 to be built nationwide, as part of the U.S. response to the epidemic. The World Health Organization says that the Ebola epidemic has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa. 
  • Liberian army (R), and U.S. Marine engineers take cover from the downdraft of a Marine MS-22 Osprey tiltrotor on Oct. 11, 2014 in Tubmanburg, Liberia. 
  • An Ebola burial team disinfects a the body of Mekie Nagbe, 28, before removing it for cremation on Oct. 10, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Nagbe, a market vendor, collapsed and died outside her home earlier in the morning while leaving to walk to a treatment center, according to her relatives. The burial of loved ones is important in Liberian culture, making the removal of infected bodies for cremation all the more traumatic for surviving family members. The World Health Organization says the Ebola epidemic has now killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa.
  • A woman collapses after Ebola burial team members takes the body of her sister for cremation on Oct. 10, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia
  • A woman grieves as Ebola burial team members arrive to take away the body of Mekie Nagbe, 28, for cremation on Oct. 10, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Nagbe, a market vendor, collapsed and died outside her home earlier in the morning while leaving to walk to a treatment center, according to her relatives. The burial of loved ones is important in Liberian culture, making the removal of infected bodies for cremation all the more traumatic for surviving family members. The World Health Organization says the Ebola epidemic has now killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa. 
  • Siata Johnson, 23, stands weakly with the help of a relative outside the Ebola treatment center at the Island Hospital on Oct. 6, 2014 on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia. The hospital, with it’s 120 beds for Ebola patients, has remained at capacity since it’s opening by the Liberian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), in September. The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people in West Africa, according to the WHO. 
  • A health worker is disinfected after working an hourlong shift in the high risk area of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF), treatment center on Oct. 5, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia.
  • A picture taken on Oct. 4, 2014 shows an empty classroom of Bassa High school in Buchanan, the largest grade school in the second port city of Liberia. Lessons have been cancelled and school’s out for the summer – and possibly the rest of the year for Ebola-hit Liberia’s children. Schools across Liberia were given hope on Nov. 13, 2014 when the three-month state-of-emergency which closed their classrooms was lifted, but there was no word on when pupils would be allowed back to lessons. Ebola has killed more than 5,000 people, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and is expected to hit economic growth in the region, as border closures and stigma disrupt the flow of goods and people.
  • A man suspected of suffering from the Ebola virus waits to be admitted to the Island Hospital in Monrovia on Oct. 5, 2014. 
  • A woman reacts after a relative is suspected of dying from the Ebola virus, in the Liberian capital Monrovia, on Oct. 4, 2014.
  • A health official dressed in protective gear examines children suffering from the Ebola virus at Makeni Arab Holding Centre in Makeni, Sierra Leone, on Oct. 4, 2014. 
  • Residents of an Ebola affected township argue about not receiving enough family and home disinfection kits distributed by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), on Oct. 4, 2014 in New Kru Town, Liberia. 
  • Residents of an Ebola affected township wait in line before dawn to receive family and home disinfection kits distributed by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), on Oct. 4, 2014 in New Kru Town, Liberia. 
  • A woman reacts after her husband is suspected of dying from the Ebola virus, in the Liberian capital Monrovia, on Oct. 4, 2014.
  • Sierra Leone Muslim faithful listen to an Imam speak about Ebola outside of Freetown, in Sierra Leone, on Oct. 4, 2014.
  • A child suffering from the Ebola virus receives treatment at Makeni Arab Holding Centre in Makeni, Sierra Leone, on Oct. 4, 2014. Makeni is one of three districts recently quarantined by the government. 
  • Liberian Red Cross staff looks for dead people in Monrovia on Oct. 3, 2014, where the Ebola virus has crippled the country's already weak health services, killing 89 health workers, and its spiral out of control has prompted stark warnings of an explosion of cases and complete collapse of the fragile post-war society. Liberia has accounted for more than half of Ebola deaths, with the official toll rising to 3,338 on October 1, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Mercy Kennedy, 9, cries as community activists approach her outside her home on 72nd SKD Boulevard in Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 2, 2014, a day after her mother was taken away by an ambulance to an Ebola ward. Neighbors wailed Thursday upon learning that Mercy’s mother had died; she was among the cluster of cases that includes Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man now hospitalized in Texas. On Thursday, Mercy walked around in a daze in a torn nightgown and flip-flops, pulling up the fabric to wipe her tears as a group of workers from the neighborhood task force followed the sound of wailing through the thick grove of banana trees and corn plants.
  • A man suspected of suffering from the Ebola virus waits to be admitted to Island Hospital in Monrovia on Oct. 2, 2014. The UN launched a mission to prevent the worldwide spread of Ebola as the US hunted for people who came in contact with the first African diagnosed with the deadly virus outside the continent.
  • A health worker stands near a man suspected of suffering from the Ebola virus as he lies on the ground naked after he was admitted to Island Hospital in Monrovia on Oct. 2, 2014. The UN launched a mission to prevent the worldwide spread of Ebola as the US hunted for people who came in contact with the first African diagnosed with the deadly virus outside the continent.
  • Construction workers stand in the rain while building a new Ebola isolation and treatment center overnight on Oct. 2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Work continues 24-hours a day on such centers, which still cannot keep up with demand as the Ebola epidemic continues to spread.
  • A Liberian health worker watches as a burial team collects bodies of Ebola victims from a Ministry of Health treatment center for cremation on Oct. 2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Eight Liberian Red Cross burial teams under contract with the country's Ministry of Health collect the bodies of Ebola victims each day in the capital. More than 3,200 people have died in West Africa due to the epidemic.
  • A burial team disinfects an Ebola victim while collecting him for cremation on Oct. 2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Eight Liberian Red Cross burial teams under contract with the country's Ministry of Health collect the bodies of Ebola victims in the capital. More than 3,200 people have died in West Africa due to the epidemic.
  • A member of a burial team disinfects his hands after collecting the body of an Ebola victim for cremation on Oct.2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Eight Liberian Red Cross burial teams under contract with the country's Ministry of Health collect the bodies of Ebola victims each day in the capital. More than 3,200 people have died in West Africa due to the epidemic.
  • Sanitized goggles and clothing hang to dry at a Ministry of Health treatment center for Ebola victims on Oct. 2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. More than 3,200 people have died in West Africa due to the epidemic.
  • A man transports a possible victim of the Ebola virus in a wheelbarrow on Oct. 2, 2014 at the Ebola treatment center at Island hospital in Monrovia. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Oct. 1 the Ebola outbreak that has devastated her country was showing signs of stabilizing as the official death toll rose again.
  • A health worker watches as a burial team collects Ebola victims from a Ministry of Health treatment center for cremation on Oct. 2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Eight Liberian Red Cross burial teams under contract with the country’s Ministry of Health collect the bodies of Ebola victims each day in the capital. More than 3,200 people have died in West Africa due to the epidemic.
  • A sick man waits for admission to a Ministry of Health treatment center for Ebola patients on Oct. 2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. More than 3,200 people have died in West Africa due to the epidemic.
  • A man too weak to walk arrives at the MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) Ebola isolation and treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 29, 2014. Six months into the world’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak in West Africa, authorities are desperately waiting for shipments of aid to help in the fight of this deadly disease.
  • A Red Cross member of staff looks on after collecting the corpse of a female victim of the Ebola virus from her home, in Monrovia, on Sept. 29, 2014. Of the four west African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak, Liberia has been hit the hardest, with 3,458 people infected – more than half of the total number of cases. Of those, 1,830 have died, according to a WHO count released on Sept. 27.
  • Medical staff members of the Croix Rouge NGO put on protective suits before collecting the corpse of a victim of Ebola, in Monrovia, on Sept. 29, 2014. Of the four west African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak, Liberia has been hit the hardest, with 3,458 people infected – more than half of the total number of cases. Of those, 1,830 have died, according to a WHO count released on Sept. 27.
  • Medical staff members of the Croix Rouge NGO put on protective suits before collecting the corpse of a victim of Ebola, in Monrovia, on Sept. 29, 2014. Of the four west African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak, Liberia has been hit the hardest, with 3,458 people infected – more than half of the total number of cases. Of those, 1,830 have died, according to a WHO count released on Sept. 27.
  • Medical staff members of the Croix Rouge NGO remove the corpse of a victim of Ebola, from a house in Monrovia, on Sept. 29, 2014. Of the four west African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak, Liberia has been hit the hardest, with 3,458 people infected – more than half of the total number of cases. Of those, 1,830 have died, according to a WHO count released on Sept. 27.
  • A Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) worker is sprayed and disinfected as he leaves a high risk zone of MSF’s Ebola isolation and treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 29, 2014. 
  • Kumba “Survivor” Fayiah, 11, sits with relatives in her St. Paul Bridge home in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 28. Fayah, who lost both parents and her sister, recovered from the Ebola virus and is now living with her extended family. As the death toll from Ebola soars, crowded clinics are turning over beds as quickly as patients are dying. This leaves social workers and psychologists struggling to keep pace and notify families, who must wait outside for fear of contagion. 
  • Workers of a cleaning company collect garbage in central Monrovia on Sept. 30, 2014. Liberia has been hit the hardest by the worst ever outbreak of Ebola, which has killed more than 3,000 people in west Africa. The latest UN data said 1,830 people have died from the killer virus in Liberia so far, and 3,458 people have been infected.
  • A man showing symptoms of Ebola waits to be granted entrance at a treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 29, 2014. The man was admitted shortly thereafter. Six months into the world’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak, and the first to happen in an unprepared West Africa, the gap between what has been sent by other countries and private groups and what is desperately needed is huge. Even as countries try to marshal more resources to close the gap, those needs threaten to become much greater, and possibly even insurmountable.
  • Children pray during Sunday service at the Bridgeway Baptist Church in the St. Paul Bridge neighborhood of Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 28, 2014. Six months into the world’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak, and the first to happen in an unprepared West Africa, the gap between what has been sent by other countries and private groups and what is desperately needed is huge. 
  • Bystanders listen to a street preacher calling on people to raise their hands and “Wave Ebola Bye Bye” in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 27, 2014. 

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Updated

More than 5,100 people have died from the unprecedented Ebola outbreak currently sweeping West Africa, the World Health Organization has said, with 8,892 confirmed cases as of Nov. 11.

In reality, however, the numbers are likely much higher.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for every one reported case of Ebola, there are an additional 1.5 that go unlisted. If these trends continue, the CDC estimates that cases in two countries alone — Liberia and Sierra Leone — could hit 1.4 million within four months.

Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the epidemic, hospitals are forced to turn away patients, sometimes because members of the staff have contracted the deadly disease themselves. In many cases, the sick and dying lie motionless on the street with nowhere to go, and no one to help.

President Obama has called the outbreak a “security threat” to the United States and pledged to lead a stronger international response. “We are not doing enough,” Obama said last week in a chilling address at the United Nations. “There’s still a significant gap between where we are and where we need to be.”

For those fortunate enough to still have their health, life in West Africa goes on under a cloud of terror and uncertainty. Upon his release from the Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Rick Sacra, the third American aid worker to be stricken with Ebola, said that one of the most “heart-wrenching” effects of the epidemic was the fact that people in Liberia weren’t touching each other anymore.

“Some people, when they greet you, they will shake your hand for three minutes or four minutes,” he said of his previous trips to the country. Now, they wave their hands by their heads to say hello.

For more feature photography, go to msnbc.com/photography

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