Africa: Key Facts About Ebola Epidemic Two Years After It Was First Declared


London — Two years after the world’s worst known outbreak of Ebola was first identified, West Africa is still experiencing small flare-ups, the most recent in Guinea.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the deadly haemorrhagic virus could resurface at any time, since it can linger in the eyes, central nervous system and bodily fluids of some survivors.

Here are some key facts and figures about the epidemic, which has killed more than 11,300 people and infected 28,600, almost all in the three worst-affected nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone:

* The epidemic began in eastern Guinea in December 2013 and swept through Liberia and Sierra Leone

* The Ebola virus infected more than 28,600 people and killed 11,300 of them in the three worst affected nations – more cases and more deaths than in all previous outbreaks combined

* Ebola cases were also recorded in seven other countries, including the United States, Spain and Nigeria, but on a much smaller scale, totalling 36 cases and 15 deaths

 * The WHO declared the West Africa Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Aug. 8, 2014

* After a slow initial response, the WHO and nations ranging from Cuba to France poured in trained staff, field hospitals, laboratories and equipment to tackle the epidemic

* On average, around 50 percent of humans infected in an outbreak die, though in past outbreaks the fatality rate has varied from 25 to 90 percent

* The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals such as fruit bats and monkeys and spreads among humans through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person

* Medical experts believe new cases in Liberia after it had twice been declared Ebola-free were due to sexual contact as the virus lives in semen longer than the 21-day incubation period elsewhere in the body

* The worst affected countries were, at the start of the epidemic, recovering from years of conflict and instability and had weak health systems and a shortage of expertise and infrastructure

 * The Ebola virus first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, South Sudan, the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo, in a village near the River Ebola

Here are key developments in the three most severely affected countries:


* The region’s outbreak began in Gueckedou, eastern Guinea in December 2013, and was first identified as being Ebola in March 2014

* Recorded more than 3,800 cases and 2,500 deaths

* Declared Ebola-free in December 2015, but a flare-up was identified in March 2016


* First case confirmed in May 2014

 * Recorded about 14,100 cases and 4,000 deaths

* Declared Ebola-free in November 2015 and March 2016


* Recorded nearly 10,700 cases and more than 4,800 deaths

* Declared Ebola-free in May 2015 and September 2015, but each time a fresh cluster of cases appeared later

* Declared Ebola-free in January 2016

Sources: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reuters News, Thomson Reuters Foundation 21st March 2016


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