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Ebola Outbreak Graphic Timeline


 
This is Meliandou, a small village tucked into the forest of Southeastern Guinea. It is home to a few dozen families. It has no electricity and no running water. Here, in December of 2013, a one-year-old boy named Emile is thought to be the first victim of the Ebola outbreak. By the end of March, eleven people will have died in the village.
The boy’s grandmother is linked to two people from the nearby village of Dawa, who get the disease. A relative of Meliandou’s midwife takes Ebola to yet another village, Dandou Pombo. It takes about thirty minutes to drive on the dirt road from Meliandou to the largest town nearby, Gueckedou. The midwife is taken to a hospital there.
In Gueckedou, a health worker also becomes ill and is taken to Macenta. Soon after, a doctor dies there. The doctor is buried in Kissidougou. Within weeks, more than 60 people will have died across the region.
The outbreak starts at the intersection of three of the poorest countries in the world. The area is home to the Kissi ethnic group. There are few official border crossings from Gueckedou into the neighboring country of Liberia but extended families cross easily by foot and dugout canoe.
In this part of the world, the few existing clinics and hospitals often lack running water and hand soap. The region had little familiarity with Ebola since nearly all of the previous outbreaks were in central Africa. Making matters worse, Ebola symptoms resemble endemic diseases in West Africa like malaria, cholera, and Lassa fever.
By February, people connected to the first patient’s family are thought to have died in Conakry and in Kekehou, Sierra Leone. This indicates that the virus probably traveled far and crossed borders early in the outbreak. But the first confirmed cases of Ebola in Guinea, came only on March 21st. Days later, an Ebola case is confirmed in the Capital, Conakry, a city of more than 1.5 million people.
Still, reports of new infections decline in late April, a statistical plateau that resembles historical outbreaks that burned out after a few months. Some international health organizations begin to relax their operations. Meanwhile, weak contact tracing and local suspicion toward foreigners and national authorities allows the disease to spread outside the clinics. Ultimately, the virus resurfaces.
In Sierra Leone, unconfirmed cases of people dying in the village of Kpondu, with Ebola-like symptoms, start as early as March but the first confirmed case comes only in late May. In July, Ebola is confirmed in Freetown, the capital. The patient is a woman living in a Kissi neighborhood of the city. At this point, the outbreak is surging out of control.

Source: nytimes


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