Six Months After the Ebola Outbreak Was Declared: What Happens When a Deadly Virus Hits the Destitute?

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On March 23, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) published formal notification of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea on its website. On Aug. 8, 2014, WHO declared the epidemic to be a “public health emergency of international concern.”

An Ebola response training center in Sierra Leone.

On March 23, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) published formal notification of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea on its website. On Aug. 8, 2014, WHO declared the epidemic to be a “public health emergency of international concern.”

This assessment traces the early origins and subsequent evolution of the epidemic, and considers where we stand today, looking at current outbreaks in each affected country and some overarching trends – and surprises – in the overall epidemic. It also gives epidemiological projections of how the epidemic is likely to evolve.

WHO is currently conducting systematic risk assessments to identify preparedness needs in neighbouring countries that are extremely worried about their susceptibility to an imported case and their capacity to respond. The results of the assessment, which will be made public soon, will guide preparedness support provided by WHO and its many partners in the Ebola response.

Theoretically, given the speed and volume of air travel, any city with an international airport is at risk of an imported case of Ebola. At the same time, worldwide vigilance is exceptionally high: WHO investigates around 20 to 30 rumored cases each day. To date, all rumored cases have been discarded.

Moreover, countries with well-developed health systems and services are unlikely to see much – if any – onward transmission of Ebola virus disease following an imported case. As today’s assessment of the situation in Nigeria and Senegal shows, conventional control tools can be highly effective at the start of an outbreak, even under some extremely challenging conditions.

This six-month situation assessment is dedicated to the scores of healthcare workers treating Ebola patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, who, as an expression of our innately shared human compassion, risked their lives, and lost them.

The cumulative number of cases and deaths, officially reported to WHO from March 23  to Sept. 22 is 5,843 cases and 2,803 deaths. To date, 337 healthcare workers have been infected, and more than 181 of them have died.

Six-month assessments by country:
 

Guinea
 

Liberia
 

Sierra Leone
 

Nigeria and Senegal
 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Source: WHO

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