Ebola Outbreak: West Africa to the US

Ebola Outbreaks Screenshot
Written by Daniel Zweier

Ebola has spread past West Africa. So far three cases have been diagnosed in the US, and the CDC is looking for 172 airline passengers. Real time stats are available at Ebola Outbreaks …

aNewDomain.net — The Ebola outbreak that started in southern Guinea this March has shown few signs of slowing down. According to the Ebola Outbreaks database, this is the “deadliest and most widespread” Ebola outbreak ever. And now there are three recorded cases in the US, all stemming from one Dallas hospital’s ill-informed decision to send home one sick man. He is now dead of Ebola.

The second and third victims are nurses who treated him. Most disturbing, at this point, is that the the third victim — even though she was being watched by the CDC — flew to Cleveland and back a couple of days later, potentially exposing a few hundred others in the airport and on planes. Ebola is only communicable once a fever is evident, and that nurse — Amber Vinson — flew from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday of this week as her fever was rising.

This is serious business, no question. As many as a 1.5 million people could be infected worldwide by January 2015, experts say. Here’s what you need to know about using the up-to-the-minute Ebola Outbreak site to stay informed, a collection of handy links and infographics and some of the latest updates.

Stay Informed with Ebola Outbreaks

The Ebola Outbreaks site filters information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US. Data from the two agencies deliver real-time statistic maps of infected areas.

Just before I published this on aNewDomain, Ebola Outbreaks’ sister site, Ebola Donations, had this update about the $25 million pledged by Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg:

If Mark Zuckerberg were a country, he’d be the fifth largest Ebola funding source. The second and third largest economies in the world, China and Japan, are dwarfed by the proceeds from the Facebook mogul in terms of donations. (On the bubble map, the pink bubble over California is Zuckerberg). This Silk builds on our work mapping Ebola Outbreaks with CDC and WHO data.”

Ebola Outbreaks Screenshot

The current West Africa outbreak, which has spread significantly into Sierra Leone and Liberia, technically has the lowest percentage of deaths (about 47 percent),but the number of reported cases has skyrocketed to 8,376.

The highest number of reported human cases before that was in Uganda, with a reported 425 cases.

That difference — almost 8,000 people — is huge. And it’s early yet.

Fewer than half of those reported 8,376 cases have resulted in fatality, which bodes well for the systems in place to fight the virus. But the rapid sweep across African nations poses a legitimate humanitarian crisis. And now that there are three reported cases in the U.S., with one victim reportedly traveling by air after she was infected, worries grow in North America, too.

Here are some stats about Ebola outbreaks before this year:

  • Pre 2014, the longest recorded outbreak was in Gabon in 1996 with a duration of seven months.

  • The outbreak with the most fatalities was in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire). That was  in 1976  and some 280 fatalities were recorded in that first recorded outbreak.

  • The outbreak with the highest fatality rate* (90 percent) was in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002, when 128 people died. So far the fatality rate for the current 2014 outbreak is 47 percent.

Ebola outside of West Africa

While the virus is most prevalent in West Africa, recent reports of outbreaks in Spain and the United States have surfaced. Two cases in the US have many Americans up in arms about quarantine and the CDC’s ability to stop the spread. The first victim, Thomas Eric Duncan, was the first Ebola patient in the US. He died a week after unsuccessfully trying to check himself into a Dallas hospital. Even after he told ER workers that he had just come in from Liberia and was vomiting, the doctor in charge did not suspect Ebola and sent him home. When he finally checked back in, it was too late.

One of his nurses, Amber Vinson, was diagnosed with Ebola yesterday, October 14. A second healthcare worker — another nurse who treated Duncan — is also infected, according to news reports. The Dallas hospital where the two nurses worked and where a doctor declined to treat Thomas Eric Duncan is now under fire in the press and by the CDC.

Information is key here. We at aNewDomain are conscientously covering Ebola. Is capitalism partially responsible for its spread? Our Ted Rall thinks so. And here are two infographics covering the issue — Ebola 101: How to Spot Ebola, How It Spreads and How to Prevent it — and Everything You Need to Know About Ebola Right Now.

Stay informed …

For aNewDomain.net, I’m Daniel Zweier.

Screenshot: Daniel Zweier via Ebola Outbreaks

Based in Oakland, CA, Daniel Zweier is an editor and writer at aNewDomain.net. Daniel blogs about culture and travel at Eclectic Perspective. He can be reached at @dbzweier+Daniel Zweier or at daniel@anewdomain.net.