What’s the Real Risk of the West African Ebola Outbreak?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ebola’s deadly sweep across West Africa has raised global alarm: Nigeria recently became the fourth country affected by the virus when a traveler fell ill and died in Lagos after flying there from Monrovia. With the Nigerian case, Ebola has entered Africa’s largest economy and a global transit hub, after first emerging in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Amid escalating travel precautions and airline restrictions, deaths of emergency responders, and headlines about national security meetings, we’ve answered a few key questions below to put the risk in perspective.

Is Ebola going to become pandemic?

Probably not.

Education programs have sought to prevent the spread of Ebola in West African countries since the outbreak began. Photo by UNICEF Guinea via Flickr.

The situation is quite serious: this is the largest and deadliest outbreak – and the first in this region – since Ebola was first observed in 1976. The latest CDC notice has officially elevated travel advisory on the three principally affected countries to “Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel” although the WHO has not yet echoed this call. As Dr. Ian Mackay has depicted in his Virology Down Underinfographic, these figures are equal to almost 90% of cases and 70% the total deaths from the first thirty years of Ebola epidemics,combined.

Source: Dalberg (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
Base of the Pyramid, infectious diseases, public health