Via The Toronto Star, an excellent article by Jennifer Yang: The Ebola outbreak that refuses to die. Click through for many links and two graphs by Maia Majumder. Excerpt:
In May, it seemed as though the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which first flared up in February, had finally been beaten into submission.
But this month, cases have started popping up again and on Wednesday, the World Health Organization announced a slew of new cases in all three affected countries, making it clear that the outbreak has found its second wind. Forty-seven new cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — all occurring in the last week or so.
This outbreak is now on track to becoming one of the longest, deadliest and most complicated Ebola outbreaks in history. In an interview with NPR reporter Jason Beaubien , Ebola expert Thomas Geisbert called the outbreak "highly unusual" because of how widely the cases are dispersed.
Tufts University virologist Robert Garry — who recently returned from Sierra Leone — also recalled finding 25 corpses in just one village where Ebola had taken hold.
"(There was) one house with seven people in it, all of one family, all dead," Garry told Beaubien.
To hear Beaubien’s full report on NPR’s All Things Considered , go here.
Prior to West Africa's current flare-up, the deadliest Ebola outbreak was the first one ever recorded, which broke out in 1976 in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). That one killed 280 people; in the current outbreak, 337 have died.
The death toll in West Africa is certainly alarming but it is also important to put the number in context. For one, the Zaire outbreak lasted less than two months; Ebola in West Africa has now been infecting people for nearly four.
And as Maia Majumder , an engineer and public health epidemiologist, points out on her blog, the West African outbreak still has a lower case fatality rate than in Zaire (case fatality rates refer to the number of people who die relative to the total number of cases). In 1976 Zaire, 88 per cent of victims were killed; in West Africa, 64 per cent of confirmed cases have died.
This case fatality rate is still, of course, devastatingly high. But given that the same Ebola strain is responsible for both the Zaire and West African outbreaks — and the fact that the latter has lasted longer and spread over more and larger areas — we can perhaps take some tiny comfort in the knowledge that this current oubreak, as terrible as it is, could have been far, far worse. (Of course, it still isn't over and the outbreak will probably continue for some time yet; let's hope that when it's all over, this outbreak doesn't truly become The Worst One Ever in all respects).
Sometimes images do a far better job of telling the story and Majumder — who has been creating excellent visual stories for MERS, the Middle East respiratory syndrome — made a few graphs that put the current Ebola outbreak in historical context.