Current Ebola outbreak is the worst in history

October 22, 2014 6:00 pm14 comments
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons – National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Numerous outbreaks of Ebola—an often fatal virus that causes weakness, fever, stomach pain, aches, diarrhea, vomiting, bleeding, and difficulty breathing—have occurred throughout history since the first reported case in Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1976. Of the several outbreaks of the disease, however, the recent outbreak is the worst in history. 

In recent weeks, the Ebola crisis has garnered more attention in the United States after the first cases were discovered on US soil. The first person to be diagnosed in the US was a man that traveled from Liberia to Dallas.  He was also the first Ebola-related death in the United States. The next two to be infected were nurses who cared for him.

In countries like Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the virus is a much more widespread issue.  It is unclear how many deaths have occurred in each country specifically, but as of Oct. 15, the total death toll from Ebola reached 4,447 deaths.  The vast majority of these deaths were in West Africa.

In the most widely affected countries in West Africa, the devastation of the Ebola outbreak permeates daily life. For example, in Liberia, public gatherings are restricted and schools have closed.  In September, Sierra Leone even confined citizens to their homes for three days in an attempt to hamper the spread of Ebola.

Of course, there are West African countries that have effectively contained the spread of the virus.  For example, Senegal and Nigeria have not reported any new cases since the beginning of September.  This is good news for Arcadia first-years, as there is a Spring Preview course that will travel to Senegal over spring break this academic year.

Dr. Jennifer Riggan, one of the faculty leaders of the course, said that Senegal and Nigeria “have both done a terrific job keeping the outbreak contained.” In fact, Riggan said, “I think all countries around the world could learn a lot from how organized these countries have been in their efforts.”

On Oct. 15, Riggan served on a panel with Dr. Maryam Zarnegar Deloffre, Dr. Laura Lessard, and Arcadia graduate Fodeba Daboh to help Arcadia students understand the Ebola crisis. Since then, Daboh has been collecting donations of medical supplies—disposable gloves, bar soaps, gauze—In various places on campus.

Daboh will travel to Sierra Leone and oversee the distribution of these supplies.  Click here to see the donation guidelines.

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