On Tuesday, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director Thomas Frieden warned that the West African Ebola outbreak is “spiraling out of control.”
This Ebola graphic from Reuters makes the pattern of disease, which began spreading slowly in the spring before spinning out of control this summer, frighteningly clear:
Ebola begins with flu-like symptoms and escalates into vomiting, diarrhoea, and often bleeding. It has infected 3,069 people and killed 1,552 in West Africa this year, primarily in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. (A limited number of cases have been reported in Nigeria and Senegal, and a separate, smaller outbreak is underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo.)
On August 29, the World Health Organisation reported that more than “40% of the total number of cases have occurred within the past 21 days.” In Liberia, where — according to the WHO — “the capacity to cope with the increasing caseload remains dramatically low,” an even higher proportion of total cases (63%) have emerged in recent weeks, suggesting that the death toll there will continue to rise sharply.
Last week, the WHO warned that Ebola, which is spread via the bodily fluids of a sickened person, could ultimately infect 20,000 people before it is brought under control. The virus, Frieden said, “is moving faster than anyone anticipated.”
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