Category Archives: Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola Epidemic: Good news from Africa & Texas; Political Games in New York Threaten to Spread Epidemic Globally

Unidentified Nigerian man and World Health Organization rep celebrate victory over Ebola in Nigeria

Unidentified Nigerian man and World Health Organization rep celebrate victory over Ebola in Nigeria, 20 October, 2014.  Source: World Health Organization/Andrew Esiebo

There was good news this week from the World Health Organization (WHO): both Nigeria and Senegal were declared by WHO to be free of Ebola virus transmission! We congratulate the heroic health care workers in both countries and from around the world who contributed to stopping those outbreaks in spite of tremendous obstacles beyond their control.

Nigeria’s outbreak, thanks to strenuous efforts by the government and health care workers was limited to only 19 people infected, of whom 7 died.  Senegal was more fortunate: it had only 1 case of Ebola and that man survived and has since returned to Guinea where the epidemic continues to rage.  The World Health Organization, in an update published on 25 October 2014, states that as of that date, “There have been 10,141 EVD cases in eight affected countries since the outbreak began, with 4922 deaths”.   There is much to celebrate, but this epidemic is far from over and threatens the lives of thousands of people in West Africa.

Breaking down the numbers, WHO points out that “[a] total of 450 health-care workers (HCWs) are known to have been infected with EVD up to the end of 23 October: 80 in Guinea; 228 in Liberia; 11 in Nigeria; 127 in Sierra  Leone; one in Spain; and three in the United States of America.  A total of 244 HCWs have died.”  These women and men are heroic workers who gave their lives selflessly in this battle against Ebola in order to prevent the epidemic from spreading out of control globally – we honor their memory!

We mourn all of the victims of this largely preventable disaster and send condolences to the friends and families of all who have died.  They were and are our sisters and brothers!

Good news came in the form of the recovery from Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) of another heroic health care worker, Ms. Nina Pham, the Texas nurse who has completely recovered from her bout with the disease. Just 15 days after she contracted the disease she was declared to be “Ebola-free” and was allowed to travel to Washington D.C. this week for a meeting with President Barack Obama during which, to prove to the nation that there was nothing to fear from survivors of the disease, he awkwardly hugged her at a press conference.

Yes, kids: there’s no need to worry; head Democrat and Wall St. puppet Barack Obama’s on top of the Ebola epidemic: he just appointed a new “Ebola Czar” – Democratic Party spin doctor Ron Klain, “a longtime political hand with no apparent medical or health care background. He did, however, serve as chief of staff to Al Gore and later Vice President Biden.”  By choosing party hack Klain, Obama pointedly ignored the fact that he already has another person who is supposed to oversee the same work as Klain – but, unfortunately for her, she’s not male.  And you can’t have a female “Ebola Czar” now, can you?  “Ebola Czarina” sounds too “girly”.  We’ll have more to say about this later.
[Source:  Fox News, “Obama to name longtime political aide as ‘Ebola czar,’ bypassing senior health official“, 17 October 2014]

In spite of the major success stories there was bad news as well: The first case of Ebola was reported in Mali;  and an American, Dr. Craig Spencer, who works for the French international medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres – Doctors Without Borders (MSF/DWB) returned to his home in New York City from his work in the hard-hit West African nation of Guinea and… tested positive for the Ebola virus a few days later. His case has set off a bipartisan, politically-motivated festival of slander and fear-mongering as Democratic Party Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo and Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie declared “a mandatory quarantine for any individual who had direct contact with an individual infected with the Ebola virus while in one of the three West African nations (Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea), including any medical personnel having performed medical services to individuals infected with the Ebola virus. Additionally, all individuals with travel history to the affected regions of West Africa, with no direct contact with an infected person, will be actively monitored by public health officials and, if necessary, quarantined, depending on the facts and circumstances of their particular situation.
[Source: Press release, “Governor Andrew Cuomo and Governor Chris Christie Announce Additional Screening Protocols for Ebola at JFK and Newark Liberty International Airports”, Governor’s Press Office at http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/10242014-ebola-screening-protocols%5D

While announcing their politically-motivated quarantine, the scientifically illiterate, allegedly God-fearing, self-aggrandizing coward, Democratic Party Governor Andrew Cuomo, took the time to slander the truly heroic and selfless Dr. Spencer, announcing to the world that Dr. Spencer had wantonly exposed the citizens of New York City to the Ebola virus by refusing to obey the quarantine protocols he was to follow under the protocols established by MSF/DWB: “He’s a doctor, and even he didn’t follow the guidelines for the quarantine, let’s be honest” Cuomo was quoted as saying.
[Source: New York Times: “Cuomo, Shifting His Policy on Outbreak, Opens Up Public Rift With de Blasio,” 24 October 2014]

It turns out in fact that Dr. Spencer was under no such quarantine order and had scrupulously followed – and perhaps even exceeded – the protocols set by MSF/DWB: “As per the specific guidelines that Doctors Without Borders provides its staff members on their return from Ebola assignments, the individual [Dr. Spencer] engaged in regular health monitoring and reported his first symptoms immediately to MSF […] “ ‘Extremely strict procedures are in place for staff dispatched to Ebola affected countries before, during, and after their assignments,’ said Sophie Delaunay, executive director of MSF. ‘Despite the strict protocols, risk cannot be completely eliminated. However, close post-assignment monitoring allows for early detection of cases and for swift isolation and medical management.’ “As soon as he developed a fever, the MSF staff member was immediately isolated and referred to Bellevue Hospital.”
[Source: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.orgEbola: MSF Staff Member in U.S. Hospital“. 24 October, 2014]

In fact, Dr. Spencer had been so careful about checking his own temperature, he notified MSF/DWB when it reached just 100.3F rather than waiting for it to reach the 100.4F threshold set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (originally the CDC had set the threshold at 101.5F).
[Source: New York Times: “Ebola Patient in New York Is Called a Doctor at Ease in Danger“, 24 October 2014]

Both Cuomo and Christie are engaged in election campaigns and are cynically using the Ebola crisis to “enhance” their political careers at the expense of the health of the citizens of their respective states and of the entire United States. To top it off, “[t]he city’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, was not informed in advance of the Cuomo-Christie mandatory quarantine order and was ‘furious,’ a senior city official who spoke to her said.” Dr. Bassett had also praised the actions of Dr. Spencer, telling reporters that he had “handled himself really well,” adding, “I don’t want anyone portraying him as reckless.”
[Source: New York Times: “Cuomo, Shifting His Policy on Outbreak, Opens Up Public Rift With de Blasio,” 24 October 2014]

This public degradation of the top woman allegedly in charge of New York City’s response to the Ebola crisis is entirely in character for the politicians of male-chauvinist Democratic and Republican parties, who routinely use women’s rights as poker chips in their political games to win votes from the reactionary right wings of both parties. Dr. Bassett was not even asked to appear at the press conference announcing the new mandatory quarantine guidelines. What women think is just not important to the men running the twin political parties of US imperialism – not even in an election year.

The panic-mongering capitalist-owned bourgeois press; the under-funded, broken US health care system and the hired politicians of the US capitalist class can be counted to do only one thing regarding the US response to the Ebola crisis: fuck it up. The US capitalist class has created a situation in which ignorant, scientifically illiterate and superstitious politicians are in charge of the response to a major international health care crisis. They pose and posture as being “in charge” and immediately engage in rampant fear-mongering in response to political polls that show that they might obtain a few more votes from the even more ignorant and backward American voters if they would only take actions that are likely to do more to create panic and even sabotage the efforts to stop the spread of the Ebola epidemic in Africa. Many health-care professionals have criticized the new policy, pointing out the hardships that it will impose on medical personnel considering going to West Africa to help stop the spread of Ebola.

Yesterday’s (October 24) New York Times quoted Dr. Dan Kelly of the Wellbody Alliance, an organization he founded, who is currently fighting the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone: “I think we are just digging the grave deeper […] [c]ome on, that’s exactly the move to push people away from going to Sierra Leone and other affected areas. It’s going to escalate the epidemic and not help solve the crisis. If we’re going to get in front of it, we need health care workers from abroad. They cannot feel shunned or discriminated against.”

[Source: New York Times: “New Ebola Quarantine Protocol Seen as Barrier to Volunteers“, 24 October 2014]

 

Of course, the new quarantine rules in New York and Newark will not apply to rich capitalists flying to and from West Africa in their private jets.  They’ll just be waved through customs as usual; the people most likely to be profiled and placed under quarantine will be… you guessed it! – black medical workers and travelers to and from the nations hardest hit by the epidemic.

Under socialism, a quarantine would be made easy for returning medical workers: they would be paid full salary to stay in an isolated retreat in the country they are working in, and it would be impossible for them to lose their jobs due to an unexpectedly long absence.  Or, they could come home and take an extra 21 days off with full pay and lay low until they were completely out of harm’s way and then could go back to work with no problems.  But under capitalism?  What are travelers supposed to do if they are placed under a 21-day quarantine?  Where will they stay and who’s going to pay for it?  What will happen to their jobs?  How will they pay their rent and utilities and take care of their families?  They’ll all just have to fend for themselves – and that is going to lead to people getting sick and still going to work, just as happens now when people get the flu – they go to work because no one can afford to take time off for fear of losing their jobs, cars, homes, etc.  Life under capitalism in the USA is like a dream come true for a virus seeking to spread as widely as possible.  Every year the flu kills an estimated 40,000 US workers thanks to our lack of a comprehensive socialist medical plan for everyone as well as the lack of paid sick days for workers and the constant fear of losing one’s job that is the plight of every working woman and man who lives in any capitalist country.

 

After the twin debacles of the CDC screwing up its protocols for protecting health care workers from Ebola and then the hospital in Texas refusing to hospitalize and sending home a now-deceased Ebola patient, you might think that the government-appointed medical professionals and the for-profit hospitals would have learned something and finally properly trained their workers to handle Ebola cases, right?  WRONG!

 

In spite of Democratic Party clown, NY Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s fatuous and vastly delirious statement that “We have the finest public health system, not only anywhere in the country but anywhere in the world”, the fact is that in New York, just as in Texas, hospital workers report that they have received little or no training to handle the crisis.

At Bellevue Hospital, where Dr. Spencer has been taken and is being treated in a special isolation ward used for tuberculosis patients, a “veteran nurse” who works at the hospital told the New York Times: ““We’re wondering how Ebola is being spread. Is it airborne? There is a lot of concern about it.”

 

The head of occupational safety and health for the New York State Nurses Association – who has been working with the for-profit hospitals “for months” preparing them for the Ebola crisis – told the Times that much of the worry of nurses over Ebola was coming from workers who had received “no training” because they weren’t going to be assigned to work in Ebola wards!

[Source: New York Times, “Bellevue Back on Front Line in Another Crisis” 24 October 2014]

To a hospital worker, that might seem to be a strange way of looking at things seeing that medical workers can only work in Ebola wards wearing the oppressively ponderous protective gear for only a few hours at a time; they also suffer from the disease itself as a result of their handling of infectious fluids from Ebola patients and many have given their lives fighting the epidemic.  But to a capitalist owner of a hospital, every penny not spent on properly training hospital workers to safely treat Ebola patients is a penny he or she can put in one of their offshore bank accounts!  Now doesn’t that make sense?

As if that’s not bad enough: a Canadian company actually developed an Ebola vaccine years ago that was proven effective in monkeys – indicating that it had great promise as a vaccine for humans, seeing that humans and chimps – being closely related members of the same branch of the tree of evolution –  share 99% of the same genetic information in their genes.

A human vaccine was developed by researchers in Canada in the early 2000’s and tested by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (AMRIID) in 2005 where it “protected all the monkeys injected with the virus”.  The Canadians tried to sell the vaccine to a number of major pharmaceutical companies so that it could be prepared for human trials –  but to the capitalists running the show at Big Pharma “an Ebola vaccine didn’t look like a profitable undertaking”.   The people who were mostly affected were poor Africans living in impoverished nations – how could the capitalists make big money developing a vaccine for them?  So it was never done, and only NOW – after some 4900 people are dead from Ebola and the epidemic is spreading uncontrolled – are human trials of the vaccine being scheduled by WHO.  The small US pharmaceutical firm that had purchased the contract to develop the human vaccine never moved forward with it, so the Canadian government canceled the contract and gave it to WHO instead.

“‘If this vaccine had been developed on time, probably people would be living now who are dead,’ said Amir Attaran, a professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa.”

“Heinz Feldmann, who developed the vaccine, complained angrily:  ‘It’s  a farce; these doses are lying around there while people are dying in Africa,’ he told Science Magazine.”

[Source: Canada.com (via Postmedia News), “Canada’s Ebola vaccine delays may have cost lives, professor says” 21 October 2014]

The US Government and the US Military have long studied Ebola and Marburg virus for possible use as biological weapons; they have also sponsored development of vaccines for Ebola.  One of the new vaccines had its development halted in 2012 when the US Defense Department cut funding for the project; another vaccine development program was halted by the US Food and Drug Administration on July 3 of this year in order to ensure that proper protections for subjects participating in the human trials would be in place before the trials began.  When the lives of poor workers are in the balance, the capitalist class and their agencies are in no hurry to do anything to save them.  Only after a major disaster takes place is the capitalist class government stirred into action. This happens time and time again with such predictable events as famines, earthquakes, hurricanes and transmittable diseases.  Human life means nothing under capitalism, when it comes right down to it, compared to profits.

[Source: Science magazine, “Ebola Drugs Still Stuck in Lab” 25 July 2014]

The longer the working class allows the US capitalist class and their worthless political cretins in the Democratic and Republican parties to run the country, there is only one possible trajectory for the handling of the Ebola epidemic: it’s going to go from bad to worse.

ATTENTION: Workers of the United States!  You need desperately to put down your TV remotes and your joysticks and start taking control – not of the cable box or the video game but of your future and the future of your children! Get up off your couches and start fighting the capitalist system before it kills us all! You have sat by for far too long, expecting that someone else would come along and save your sorry asses! It is up to every working woman and man in this country to get involved in the fight for a better future for our kids and grandkids and to build revolutionary socialist workers parties – like ours – so that we can not merely pressure the Democrats and Republicans to do the right thing but to take power from the hands of the greed-infected capitalist class and their paid shills in every state capital in the country and place it in the hands of people who give a damn – the political leaders of, by and for the US working class! As the sudden appearance of the medical crisis of Ebola shows, the long-running US working class “strategy” of hiding your heads in the sand and/or voting this year for a Republican and next year for a Democrat just isn’t going to save your asses when Ebola comes to your town! Does half of the country have to die from Ebola while the capitalist class and their politicians run around like headless chickens before you working-class wage-slaves wake up? Will you sit there watching reality TV shows while your children die? What is wrong with you? WAKE UP AND JOIN US!

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

World Health Organization Fact Sheet: Ebola Virus Disease – Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

With the long-expected news that the United States has just experienced its first case of a person coming down with the Ebola Virus Disease, we would like to give our readers some accurate, factual scientific information about the nature of the illness caused by the Ebola virus – its symptoms, methods of treatment and preventative measures that can be taken to reduce transmission rates.

There is no doubt now that the international response of the capitalist world to the outbreak of Ebola in Africa has proven to be – typically and quite predictably – completely inadequate, resulting in an uncontrolled outbreak of the disease there.   It is just a matter of time before more cases start popping up in the United States and the rest of the world.  The advanced capitalist countries are in a position to potentially limit the casualties resulting from this virus; it remains to be seen if they are as prepared to spend the money necessary to deal with this serious health crisis as they should be.  The tremendous suffering of the victims of EVD in Africa today is a direct result of the greed and indifference of the capitalist world to the endemic poverty, lack of adequate health care, food and clean water that exists in Africa as a result of centuries of colonial exploitation of Africa and her people – our brothers and sisters.  Just as the greed of the capitalist classes of the world caused them to cut funding for UN health care services for Africa just before the epidemic began, the greed of the US capitalist class – which has refused to provide a comprehensive national health care system for ALL the citizens of the United States – could well prove fatal for many US workers – as well as for many others all over the world.  The US working class may very well pay an extraordinarily high price in the near future for its continued support of the US capitalist class and its rotten capitalist system.

Historically, the fatality rate of the Ebola virus ranges from 25% to over 80%; but that is based on outbreaks confined to very poor countries in Africa, where medical care is almost non-existent, especially in rural areas.  We would expect that with the far more comprehensive and advanced medical facilities in the leading industrialized nations of the world, the fatality rate should prove to be far lower than what has been experienced in the outbreaks in Africa – but this is in fact a very serious disease and must be taken seriously by workers all over the world.  It is not a hoax cranked up by the government to scare people: the Ebola virus is very real; it is very deadly if not treated promptly; and it is now here in the US.

Knowledge is power; we need to educate ourselves so we can understand what it is we are up against.  As we learned from the AIDS epidemic, the initial belief that exposure to the virus was essentially a death sentence proved after the first deadly years of that epidemic to be not true.  Initially, the fatality rate was extremely high, but as scientists and the public came to grips with the illness, ways were found to reduce transmission rates and to provide drugs – very expensive drugs – to keep H.I.V.-positive people healthy for years.  Ebola patients who survive a bout with the illness are said to be immune from a recurrence for up to 10 years.  Thousands of people in Africa have been sickened by the Ebola Virus Disease and have survived and never again experienced a recurrence of it.   Panic is not a helpful response to any kind of health crisis.  We don’t live in the Dark Ages – we can plan ahead and prepare to deal with the challenges that this Ebola epidemic will present to us – if we educate ourselves as to what exactly it is we are dealing with.  And so we republish here the World Health Organization’s Fact Sheet on “Ebola Virus Disease”.

IWPCHI

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/#

Ebola virus disease

Fact sheet N°103
Updated September 2014


Key facts

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
  • The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
  • The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.
  • Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation.
  • Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
  • There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but 2 potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.

Background

The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

The current outbreak in west Africa, (first cases notified in March 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It has also spread between countries starting in Guinea then spreading across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia, by air (1 traveller only) to Nigeria, and by land (1 traveller) to Senegal.

The most severely affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have very weak health systems, lacking human and infrastructural resources, having only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability. On August 8, the WHO Director-General declared this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

A separate, unrelated Ebola outbreak began in Boende, Equateur, an isolated part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The virus family Filoviridae includes 3 genera: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus, and Ebolavirus. There are 5 species that have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Taï Forest. The first 3, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. The virus causing the 2014 west African outbreak belongs to the Zaire species.

Transmission

It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. This has occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced.

Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola.

People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.

Symptoms of Ebola virus disease

The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms. First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools). Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

Diagnosis

It can be difficult to distinguish EVD from other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis. Confirmation that symptoms are caused by Ebola virus infection are made using the following investigations:

  • antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • antigen-capture detection tests
  • serum neutralization test
  • reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay
  • electron microscopy
  • virus isolation by cell culture.

Samples from patients are an extreme biohazard risk; laboratory testing on non-inactivated samples should be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.

Treatment and vaccines

Supportive care-rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids- and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated. No licensed vaccines are available yet, but 2 potential vaccines are undergoing human safety testing.

Prevention and control

Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission. Risk reduction messaging should focus on several factors:

  • Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
  • Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
  • Outbreak containment measures including prompt and safe burial of the dead, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola, monitoring the health of contacts for 21 days, the importance of separating the healthy from the sick to prevent further spread, the importance of good hygiene and maintaining a clean environment.

Controlling infection in health-care settings:

Health-care workers should always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or other contact with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe burial practices.

Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding. When in close contact (within 1 metre) of patients with EBV, health-care workers should wear face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown, and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures).

Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Ebola infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.

WHO response

WHO aims to prevent Ebola outbreaks by maintaining surveillance for Ebola virus disease and supporting at-risk countries to developed preparedness plans. The document provides overall guidance for control of Ebola and Marburg virus outbreaks:

When an outbreak is detected WHO responds by supporting surveillance, community engagement, case management, laboratory services, contact tracing, infection control, logistical support and training and assistance with safe burial practices.

WHO has developed detailed advice on Ebola infection prevention and control:

Table: Chronology of previous Ebola virus disease outbreaks

[NOTE BY IWPCHI: The fatality rates shown here are accurate, but we caution our readers not to “speed-read” through these stats.  Where the fatality rates have been shown to be “100%” we see that in almost every case, there was only one person who got sick – and that person died, hence a “100% fatality rate”.  These are indeed very sobering statistics; but we repeat that these outbreaks took place in very poor countries with limited (or no) medical facilities capable of dealing with a disease such as Ebola.  The fatality rate in the industrialized nations like the US therefore should prove to be much reduced from the numbers you see here.]

Year Country Ebolavirus species Cases Deaths Case fatality
2012 Democratic Republic of Congo Bundibugyo 57 29 51%
2012 Uganda Sudan 7 4 57%
2012 Uganda Sudan 24 17 71%
2011 Uganda Sudan 1 1 100%
2008 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 32 14 44%
2007 Uganda Bundibugyo 149 37 25%
2007 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 264 187 71%
2005 Congo Zaire 12 10 83%
2004 Sudan Sudan 17 7 41%
2003 (Nov-Dec) Congo Zaire 35 29 83%
2003 (Jan-Apr) Congo Zaire 143 128 90%
2001-2002 Congo Zaire 59 44 75%
2001-2002 Gabon Zaire 65 53 82%
2000 Uganda Sudan 425 224 53%
1996 South Africa (ex-Gabon) Zaire 1 1 100%
1996 (Jul-Dec) Gabon Zaire 60 45 75%
1996 (Jan-Apr) Gabon Zaire 31 21 68%
1995 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 315 254 81%
1994 Cote d’Ivoire Taï Forest 1 0 0%
1994 Gabon Zaire 52 31 60%
1979 Sudan Sudan 34 22 65%
1977 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 1 1 100%
1976 Sudan Sudan 284 151 53%
1976 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 318 280 88%

For more information contact:

WHO Media centre
Telephone: +41 22 791 2222
E-mail: mediainquiries@who.int