THE death toll from West Africa’s Ebola outbreak has passed 10,000, according to an updated tally released by the World Health Organization on Thursday, March 12.
Since reports first emerged in March 2014, the deadly hemorrhagic fever has spread throughout the region, killing thousands including doctors and volunteers from different countries, including the US, who were are staying in the region. The fever reached Senegal, Nigeria, and Mali, but was contained.
The current epidemic sweeping across the region has now killed more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined.
Liberia has recorded the most Ebola deaths, with 4,162. Sierra Leone is the second worst-hit nation, with 3,655, and Guinea has recorded 2,187 deaths, according to the WHO’s data. Nearly 10,000 people in six countries total have been reported killed from the disease.
A handful of viral cases have also been recorded in the US, Spain, and Great Britain, affecting people from health workers, to nurses’ aides, to travelers from West Africa. One death was reported in the US.
WHO admits the figures are underestimates, given the difficulty collecting the data. Officials this week discovered scores of bodies in a remote diamond-mining area of Sierra Leone, raising fears that the scale of the Ebola outbreak may have been underreported.
Ebola was first identified in 1976 and occurs in regions of sub-Saharan Africa. There are normally fewer than 500 cases reported each year, and no cases were reported at all between 1979 and 1994.
“The number of [Ebola cases] is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them,” said WHO director general Margaret Chan last September.
Researchers from the New England Journal of Medicine have traced the source of the current outbreak to a two-year-old toddler, who died in December 2013 in Meliandou, a small village in south-eastern Guinea.
(With reports from Reuters, BBC)
(LA Weekend March 14-17, 2015 Sec. A pg.8)