Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ebola Outbreak 2014

Ever since I first heard about the Ebola virus I have found it very terrifying. Who wouldn't with high infection chances and survival rates being low and no cure (apart from the stories about a 'secret medicine' in the US only tested on animals). Since March news items regularly hit the news of an Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Countries that are hit the worst are Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Source: Wikipedia

But news items usually state the total number of casualties so far or some recent events, but they somehow don't manage to show me how serious the situation is. So I went to the WHO site on the subject. Here they have posted news updates. So I went through them all to get the overview myself.

Countries in Western Africa involved in Ebola outbreak
Below is, as at the time of writing, the most recent overview by the WHO. You can see that luckily Nigeria still hasn't had that many cases, but the other countries are not that lucky. There were reports about cases in Mali, but they were tested negative.

New (1)ConfirmedProbableSuspectTotals
Sierra Leone
Cases681 1344521931 779
1. New cases were reported between 5 and 6 August 2014.
source: WHO aug 8 2014

This of course only tells you part of the story. The Wikipedia on the 2014 outbreak is very elaborate on the matter and it has a nice graph of the totals. To get an impression how different countries are doing I put the data I took from the WHO site in a graph.

In this graph you see the total number of cases. That includes confirmed, deaths and suspected cases.
The graph tells a sad story of course. in Guinea the outbreak started and slowly the number of cases is increasing. But for Sierra Leone and Liberia it looks a lot grimmer. The number of cases is really exploding, so let's hope they are able to stop this soon.

I choose to use circles in this graph and not a continuous line. It seems more transparent. The data isn't continuous in any way. The information comes with a couple of days apart, it's changed constantly when tests are negative and of course people come in whole numbers. So in Liberia in April there were some suspected cases they turn out not to be due to Ebola. In result the total number was lower in May.

Death rates are always really high with Ebola and this outbreak is no exception. Guinea: 74%, Liberia: 53% and Sierra Leone: 41%. Those number could go up I guess since there some time between showing signs of the virus and when people pass away.