If you’ve been following the fast moving Ebola outbreak in West Africa, you may wonder why containing the deadly virus is proving to be so difficult.
After all, there have been nearly 20 previous Ebola outbreaks and few have gotten into the triple digits when the final case count is tallied. This outbreak, with over 3,700 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths, exceeds all previous known Ebola cases combined.
An update released last week by the World Health Organization provides a small but enlightening piece of the puzzle of how this virus is wreaking havoc through several countries in West Africa.
This story relates to spread in Nigeria, which experienced a single importation of the virus in late July. It has been hoped Nigeria would be able to stamp out spread of the virus by tracing contacts of cases and putting them into quarantine until it was clear whether they were infected or not.
For a while, it looked like the continent’s most populous country might be able to stop Ebola transmission. It looks considerably less promising now.
A man from Liberia named Patrick Sawyer became infected in that country, reportedly while looking after his sister, who died from Ebola. A government official, Sawyer was due to go to an economic conference in Nigeria and did so — even though health officials in Liberia were urging people who were contacts of known cases not to travel.
Sawyer was sick by the time he arrived in Nigeria on July 20 and he died on July 25. Within days of his case being diagnosed, authorities in Nigeria were following 59 people who had had contact with the man. The case count started to grow. A doctor tested positive. Then a nurse, who died.
Read the full, original story: Ebola: See how it spreads