CRF Blog

The 2014 Ebola outbreak

by Bill Hayes

Vox explains The 2014 Ebola outbreak in 12 short cards. Below is the first card.

Why is Ebola suddenly in the news?

The deadliest Ebola outbreak in recorded history is happening right now. The outbreak is unprecedented both in the number of people who have gotten sick and in geographic scope. And so far, it’s been a long battle that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

The Ebola virus has now hit five countries: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal. (There is a separate outbreak happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, too.)

The virus — which starts off with flu-like symptoms and sometimes ends with bleeding — has infected more than 5,500 people and killed more than 2,500 since this winter, according to the World Health Organization on September 19, 2014.

Ebola is both rare and very deadly. Since the first outbreak in 1976, Ebola viruses have infected thousands of people and killed roughly 60 percent of them. Symptoms can come on quickly and kill fast.

Journalist David Quammen put it well in a recent New York Times op-ed: “Ebola is more inimical to humans than perhaps any known virus on Earth, except rabies and HIV-1. And it does its damage much faster than either.” [more]