In this Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 file photo, health workers load a suspected Ebola patient into the back of an ambulance in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Professors from three leading British universities say policies favoring international debt repayment over social spending contributed to the Ebola crisis by hampering health care in the three worst-hit West African countries. Conditions for loans from the International Monetary Fund prevented an effective response to the outbreak that has killed nearly 8,000 people, the academics allege in a report in The Lancet Global Health journal this month. (AP Photo/Michael Duff, File)
BERLIN (AP) — The World Health Organization says more than 8,000 people are thought to have died last year from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The Geneva-based body says the total number of confirmed, probable and suspected deaths from the disease in the three most affected countries reached 7,989 by Dec. 31.
The United Nations agency said Friday that 2,827 deaths had been reported from Sierra Leone, some 3,423 from Liberia and 1,739 from Guinea. It said those countries had a total of 20,381 cases to date.
The current outbreak, which began about a year ago, has also claimed some 15 lives elsewhere.
The Ebola virus causes a form of hemorrhagic fever with a high mortality rate. It can be transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood.