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Ebola Epidemic is Worst in Recorded History

Ebola Epidemic is Worst in Recorded History

The Ebola outbreak that began ravaging the nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone last February has advanced to being the deadliest Ebola epidemic in recorded history. Within these countries, death tolls have reached nearly 400 with more than 650 recorded infections.

Those numbers alone show the devastating mortality rate of Ebola. Without medical intervention, Ebola can be deadly in up to 90% of cases. With stabilizing support, that number drops to about 68%. However, those are still some tough odds to beat. Currently there is no cure or vaccine to manage Ebola.

MSF (Medicine Sans Frontiers/Doctors without Borders) and the WHO (World Health Organization) have been on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak since day one. However, the wide geographical spread of cases has made this outbreak particularly difficult to contain. MSF first sounded the alarm in April, calling this epidemic “out of control” and warned of it spreading to neighboring countries. However, they were contradicted at the time by the WHO, which called the outbreak, “neither an epidemic, nor unprecedented.”

The WHO has since changed their tune, calling on international communities to help stamp out this ravaging disease.

Part of the reason for the outbreak is the innate distrust many local residents have with government officials and medical staff. In rural areas, diseases are often attributed to curses or gods. Local doctors, trying to treat the disease with teas and herbs, have exacerbated the infection rate. The consumption of bush meat has also contributed to this problem.

In Liberia, the government has made it illegal to house anybody who is infected with Ebola. However, critics say this move may have the opposite effect it intends, creating fear among people to come forward with new cases.

The scope of the Ebola outbreak

Four medical workers have already died of the disease. As medical correspondent for NBC, Dr. Richard Besser puts it, “There’s nothing quite as frightening as stepping into an Ebola ward, knowing that one mistake, one slip of a mask or a glove, might lead to an untreatable deadly disease.”

Ebola, which has a 21 day incubation period, starts like most other illnesses. Aches, pains, headaches and eye infections are common complaints. For the lucky few, the disease will stop here, taken care of by the patient’s own immune system. However, for the unlucky majority, symptoms will slowly begin to morph into vomiting and diarrhea. While some patients are pulled back from the brink at this point, for victims that progress into hemorrhagic fever, a painful death undoubtedly lies ahead.

Slowly, the capillaries inside the patient’s bodies begin to burst. The organs start to fail and blood begins to pool in the body. Most noticeably, eyes turn red and hemorrhaging will occur from the nose, mouth, ears and various other orifices. As the body destroys itself, boils that appear under the skin begin to rupture. Most patients die shortly after. And because of the fragile and nearly liquid state of the corpse, discomposure is accelerated, making the body highly contagious.

For those who can’t afford to get help, and have family members die in their homes or their villages, the lack of proper equipment to move and contain infectious bodies is extremely problematic. Villagers can’t leave corpses rotting away in their homes, but they can’t touch them either, creating a paradox for those without access to thousands of dollars in medical hazmat equipment.

Although in the past Ebola has killed faster than it can infect (causing outbreaks to remain relatively short), the widespread nature of this particular epidemic means it’s been exceedingly difficult to treat. Now that it has made its way into densely populated cities, the situation could become dire.

Bart Janssens, director of operations for MSF, told the Associated Press that, “There needs to be a real political commitment that this is a very big emergency…Otherwise, it will continue to spread, and for sure it will spread to more countries.”

With no signs of the disease slowing down, Ebola has put the entire region of West Africa at risk. Furthermore, expanding global development and daily flights to North America and Europe from countries such as Ghana and Nigeria means that this outbreak needs to be managed on a global level.

MSF is currently at maximum capacity in the region and have expressed concerns that if further outbreaks develop, they don’t have the resources needed to create quarantine areas and treatment centers. This means that if the international community fails to act and fund treatment and education programs in this ravaged region, we could be faced with an extremely deadly disease spreading past our capabilities to contain it.

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3:17PM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

Mark D..... why don't you take your hate filled posts with you as you visit (and volunteer) to nurse some Ebola patients.....Maybe you can help bury the dead and cheer as you think the population is dwindling......

3:02PM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

The Bubonic Plague, was a natural form of population control. Before the plague, life in Europe was getting worse by the day. Europe was severely overpopulated and in a great economic depression. Most of the land that could be farmed on had been abused. This made it difficult to grow food. Overpopulation is the condition of having a population so dense as to cause environmental deterioration, and an impaired quality of life. There was a great rift between the social classes. If the Bubonic Plague did not occur, there would have been continuous overpopulation. Population would have exploded. The land that was not producing enough food before the plague, would have been producing even less. The resulting famine would mean people would have resorted to any desperation including cannibalism. Before the plague, drinking water was contaminated. Human wastes were put into the rivers, which was eventually drank by the people. Other diseases would have occurred if the plague did not exist. Such water born diseases as Cholera, and Typhoid would have broke out. War would have increased, because more people would have been fighting for food and other necessities. More people would have died during war.

After the plague the feudal system was gone. Markedly less people and the environment and wildlife and quality of life for remaining humans rebounded. It's easy to come to the conclusion that life without humans is paradise.

2:53PM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

hmmm.. deadly in 90% of the cases.. maybe this is nature's way of cleaning out humanity, earth's worst virus. Next thing it will become airborne and reduce the human population to a manageable number worldwide. Sounds like Karma to me

9:04PM PDT on Jul 11, 2014

3 week incubation. That is darn scary when you consider what an unknowing exposed person can do to pass it on to potentially hundreds of people. This should scare everyone. No one is immune. The horrible suffering that the people are going through and the fear. Just aweful.

1:52PM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

I used to live in Sierra Leone, where I taught at the university; the people were well-known as the friendliest, most laid-back, politest people in West Africa. I grieved for them during the so-called civil war (aka diamond grab) and now, just as they are recovering, this. What a horror! Now I grieve not only for them but for the Liberians and Guineans.

I notice that this article has brought out the bigoted, racist, xenophobes. If it were about how to make cupcakes, they'd find a way to apply their ignorant racism to it.

I'm also sorry to see the "Me-first, Me onliers"; as long as THEY are OK, who cares about others? It seems that they are too ignorant to understand the benefits of enlightened self-interest. The rich in the West used to think the same way about cholera; they invested in treated water and sewer systems only when they discovered--horrors of horrors--that they could get it too.

1:35PM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

The WHO is often wrong and extremely slow to realize the truth of reality with its wait-and-see approach.

REAL(?) political commitment ... an oxymoron on just about every front. Since we all share this one planet the commitment should already be in place but is not, nor do we demand and follow through.

Question: What about global industrial workers coming from other more developed countries or those administering aid and distributing supplies to those in need? Do they count for anything?


1:14PM PDT on Jul 9, 2014


12:08PM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

Africa is the cradle of emerging viruses. With the ease of travel, what once was a limited and rare disease, can spread quickly around the world. While Ebola is 'sexy' and elicits fear along with excitement, it is a hot virus and generally burns out before it spreads too far. Unless it mutates, which happens more often than not. There are other emerging viruses far more frightening. What happens in Africa, and other underdeveloped nations, is not only important for citizens of those nations, it is important for the world.

4:20AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

sad and scary !!!

4:37PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

Very Scary!

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