Since the outbreak’s first reported case in Guinea near the border of Sierra Leone in December of 2013, Ebola has spread at an alarming rate, with disastrous consequences. In December of 2013, Emile Ouamouno, an infant boy in Guéckédou, a remote area of Guinea bordering Sierra Leone fell violently ill. Tragically, Emile passed away with what we now know is Ebola. Within days Emile’s mother and sister also contracted this deadly virus. After the initial cases of Ebola, the virus began to spread, and by March there were eight cases reported in Liberia and six cases of Ebola reported in Sierra Leone. According to The Economist, an alarming 759 people were infected with the disease by the end of June. Of the 759 infected, 467 lost their lives to the disease. The most recent reports in 2015 estimate that Ebola has infected over 24,000 people, a staggering number in such a short period of time. The World Health Organization estimates that this endemic has claimed the lives of over 9,000, the vast majority of whom live in West Africa. The most violent outbreak of Ebola recorded is still posing a threat and the battle against Ebola is far from over.
Efforts to fight this deadly virus are essential to containing and eventually stopping it. After the virus’ onset heroic individuals took action in these areas afflicted by Ebola, exposing themselves to immense risk and danger in order to provide care and preventive education to those afflicted and their communities. Healthcare workers and volunteers play an instrumental role in the battle against Ebola, educating people about the risks of contracting and spreading Ebola. In acts of bravery and selflessness, healthcare workers and volunteers venture into the heart of communities afflicted by Ebola to educate them on the dangers of things such as traditional burial rituals that involve touching and washing the bodies of deceased loved ones and family members.
Ebola has infected communities with incredible speed and unthinkable force. Ebola’s reach stretches further than the lives it claims, the disease has serious implications for the youth in afflicted areas of West Africa. The nearly 10,000 reported deaths caused by Ebola resulted in more than 16,000 orphaned boys and girls. Ebola has left an indelible mark on the lives of those who survived its wrath, and the need for continued support is clearer than ever.
According to recent reports from The World Health Organization Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia reported less than 100 new weekly cases. While this news could indicate that Ebola may be loosening its grip on the region, statistics from the same report reveal that the number of new cases reported last week was higher than the previous week, underscoring that the Ebola virus still poses an immediate threat. The World Health Organization’s report also expressed the urgency of fast action, warning of the wet season expected in the most highly afflicted areas of West Africa. While recent reports provide hope that the rate of new infections may be declining, it is exceedingly clear that the struggle against. Ebola is not over yet.