Ebola-Stricken Countries Scramble to Build Treatment Centers

PHOTO: A worker from the International Committee of the Red Cross carries a hose during the construction a brand new health center in Kenema, Sierra Leone on Aug. 25, 2014.
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Aid groups in West Africa are scrambling to build treatment centers for the growing number of Ebola patients in the region.

The latest construction in Kenema, Sierra Leone, will house patients currently flooding the city’s public hospital.

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The Ebola outbreak continues to spread through Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where at least 2,615 people have contracted the virus and 1,427 people have died, according to the World Health Organization.

PHOTO: A worker from the International Committee of the Red Cross digs a hole with a pickaxe during the construction a brand new health center in Kenema, Sierra Leone on Aug. 25, 2014.
Mohammed Elshamy/Getty Images
PHOTO: A worker from the International Committee of the Red Cross digs a hole with a pickaxe during the construction a brand new health center in Kenema, Sierra Leone on Aug. 25, 2014.

Roughly 240 health care workers have been infected while working to curb the outbreak, according to WHO, 120 of whom have died.

PHOTO: A worker of the International Committee of the Red Cross digs a hole with a pickaxe during the construction a brand new health center in Kenema, Sierra Leone on Aug. 25, 2014.
Mohammed Elshamy/Getty Images
PHOTO: A worker of the International Committee of the Red Cross digs a hole with a pickaxe during the construction a brand new health center in Kenema, Sierra Leone on Aug. 25, 2014.

Ebola is a contagious virus that spreads through contact with body fluids. The best way to prevent its spread is to isolate patients until they’re no longer showing symptoms such as fever, aches, diarrhea and vomiting.

PHOTO:
Shuttered School Becomes Ebola Ward

But the unprecedented outbreak, that largest since the discovery of Ebola in 1976, has overwhelmed what little medical infrastructure existed before cases began to emerge in March 2014. Shuttered schools and buildings once reserved for cholera patients have been transformed into Ebola wards to keep up with the influx of patients.

In Liberia, new treatment centers are quickly filling up with previously unidentified Ebola patients leading health officials there to suspect an uncounted and untreated "invisible caseload," according to WHO.

Meanwhile, the outbreak is depleting resources needed to address other medical problems.

PHOTO: A man with an umbrella watches workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross during the construction a brand new health center in Kenema, Sierra Leone on Aug. 25, 2014.
Mohammed Elshamy/Getty Images
PHOTO: A man with an umbrella watches workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross during the construction a brand new health center in Kenema, Sierra Leone on Aug. 25, 2014.

"The number of women who give birth without a trained attendant, the number of children with malaria who go untreated, and the number of people who die from trauma because there is no hospital willing or able to take them is unknown," said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser, who is reporting from Monrovia, Liberia.

Please join Dr. Besser for a Facebook chat today at 1 p.m. ET. He'll be answering your questions about Ebola and describing the situation from inside the hot zone in Liberia. To join, simply go to the ABC News Facebook page.

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