Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are in the midst of an outbreak of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. The numbers that have been provided by the respective ministries of health and sanitation and the World Health Organization, which has been summarized in a CDC factsheet show frightening trends. Before proceeding further, let us take a look at the numbers of the suspected and confirmed cases, suspected deaths and laboratory confirmed cases in these three nations:
I have always been interested in the Ebola virus, not only because it is one scary killer of a bug, but also because not much is known about the whereabouts of this well publicized virus. It has always attracted media frenzy because it fits the profile of a killer virus some super-villain in a Robin Cook thriller has grown in his mad-scientist-laboratories. The Ebola virus is primarily reared by bats. This CDC diagram is quite helpful in appreciating whatever little is clearly known about the virus:
There have been almost annual outbreak of bouts of Ebola in this region over the past few years. I remember blogging elsewhere about another outbreak in Guinea a year or so ago. This indicates that in addition to being a virulent killer, this virus has some ability to come back in waves. While understanding the epidemiology maybe slightly difficult given the occult index case(s), it is a fair assumption that it has its roots in an epizootic transmission. This virus is also similar in genotype and nature to the Zaire subtype that was previously identified in Zaire and Gabon. This might mean that there are underlying themes of migrating reservoirs (bats!) that needs to be checked out. A map of the affected areas seems to suggest some continuity that might support such a hypothesis.
Overall, this outbreak is still progressing and many more cases and deaths can be expected. And the problem remains, that since this is a disease affecting primarily the African poor, the Pharmaceutical industries and for-profit industries shall find little enthusiasm in finding a remedy for this ill.