Terrifying new normal? An Ebola outbreak that never really goes away.

Thursday, September 25, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Abby Phillip
September 25, 2014

An idea long viewed as an unlikely possibility is now becoming increasingly real: Ebola might not go away for a very long time.

It has never happened before in the 38-year history of the virus. Every other time Ebola has made the unlikely jump from the animal world to the human one, it has been snuffed out within days, weeks or, at most, months.

This time, though, in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Ebola virus is raging like a forest fire, in the words of several public health officials. And some of them are raising the possibility that the outbreak-turned-full-fledged-epidemic could become fundamentally different from any other Ebola outbreak on record, in that it might stick around.

“What’s always worked before – contact tracing, isolation and quarantine – is not going to work, and it’s not working now,” said Daniel Lucey, a professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University Medical Center, who spent three weeks treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and will soon travel to the Liberian capital of Monrovia for another five-week stint.

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