Ebola: Mapping the Outbreak

Ebola: Mapping the Outbreak

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014, and rapidly became the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.

In fact, the epidemic killed five times more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined.

More than 21 months on from the first confirmed case recorded on 23 March 2014, 11,315 people have been reported as having died from the disease in six countries; Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali.

The total number of reported cases is about 28,637.

But on 13 January, 2016, the World Health Organisation declared the last of the countries affected, Liberia, to be Ebola-free.

The World Health Organization (WHO) admits the figures are underestimates, given the difficulty collecting the data.

There needs to be 42 days without any new cases for a country to be declared Ebola-free.

The outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal were declared officially over by the WHO in October 2014. Sierra Leone and Guinea both had much larger outbreaks and it took a little longer. Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free on 7 November 2015, Guinea followed in December.

Liberia has been the worst-hit, with more than 4,800 dead and 10,672 becoming infected. The WHO said that at the peak of transmission, during August and September 2014, Liberia was reporting between 300 and 400 new cases every week.

The epidemic seemed to abate and the outbreak in Liberia was declared over on 9 May 2015 - only to re-emerge seven weeks later when a 17-year-old man died from the disease and more cases were reported. The same happened in September, which is why the latest declaration of Liberia being Ebola-free, while welcome, should be treated with caution, say correspondents.

The WHO has warned that West Africa may see flare-ups of the virus.

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How the virus spread

Researchers from the New England Journal of Medicine traced the outbreak to a two-year-old toddler, who died in December 2013 in Meliandou, a small village in south-eastern Guinea.

In March, hospital staff alerted Guinea's Ministry of Health and then medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). They reported a mysterious disease in the south-eastern regions of Gueckedou, Macenta, Nzerekore, and Kissidougou.

It caused fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. It also had a high death rate. Of the first 86 cases, 59 people died.

The WHO later confirmed the disease as Ebola.

Ebola death toll

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