Ebola crisis could last through 2015: expert

Thursday, December 25, 2014
By Paul Martin

DEC 25, 2014

LONDON – The Ebola crisis in West Africa, where the first victim died almost a year ago, is likely to last until the end of 2015, according to a scientist who helped to discover the virus.

Two-year-old Emile Ouamouno died in the remote village of Meliandou in southern Guinea on Dec. 28 last year after suffering from a fever, headache and diarrhoea. His 3-year-old sister, mother and grandmother died days later.

These deaths went unnoticed and the disease smouldered undetected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It was not until March that health officials in Guinea started to realize something worrisome was happening.

Ebola had never struck in West Africa, and it took a while to recognize the start of what has become the world’s worst outbreak of the virus, which has killed more than 7,500 people and infected nearly 19,500 in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

By August, the WHO declared the epidemic to be a “public health emergency of international concern.”

Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and part of a team to discover Ebola in 1976, said progress is being made in trying to stop the virus from spreading but it will take time to develop vaccines.

“This will be an epidemic with a very long tail, and a bumpy tail. … We need to be ready for a long effort, a sustained effort probably the rest of 2015,” Piot told the BBC on Wednesday.

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