In the past, outbreaks of the Ebola virus have flared up and died down fairly quickly and have also been relatively limited in the areas affected, mainly rural areas. The current outbreak which started in March in the west African country of Guinea is displaying a disturbing new trend which I will get to shortly.
Since March, the Ebola virus has killed at least 660 people. While that number may not seem much, many more die of malaria, it is the virulence, the ease with which the virus can spread which is starting to sound alarms in a way not seen before. Although the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea, it has since spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. There are also unconfirmed reports of the infection in Ghana.
Thankfully the virus has not mutated so that it can be transmitted through the air. However, it is highly transmissible by touch, either by direct contact with an infected person or touching a surface they have touched. The incubation period of the virus is between 2-20 days, the length of time before an infected person starts showing symptoms. In that time many people can be infected by a carrier without even realizing it.
I have been following the situation for a while via The World Health Organization website but today I decided it is time to write, due to an important new development. Reported in The Guardian of London newspaper today there is an article, which tells of a Liberian civil servant who flew in to Lagos international airport in Nigeria while infected with Ebola. He was already showing symptoms and collapsed shortly afterwards and died. The point to make is that Lagos is a major hub, many Europeans, Americans and Chinese use it when they go on business to Nigeria which has an important oil industry as well as other natural resource industries. If others from that part of the world have used the airport while infected but not yet showing symptoms, the risk of Ebola spreading and becoming transcontinental grows enormously.
It is well worth keeping an eye on the development of the situation. Hopefully it will die down but it is always best to be prepared.