Ebola epidemic now in Nigeria

Thursday, 7 August, 2014

Ebola virus (EBOV) has now started an epidemic in Nigeria. This was initiated by the Liberian man who flew into Lagos, collapsed at the airport, was hospitalised and died. Six secondary cases have been detected and one, a nurse who cared for the Liberian, has died. The West African Ebola epidemic is very serious. Not only is the virus still spreading in all 4 countries, but it will start to adapt to transmission in an urban environment. WHO reports a cumulative total of 1,172 cases with 932 deaths, a case fatality rate of 54%. This case fatality rate is high, but less than many other previous outbreaks. An EBOV that adapts to cause a less severe disease in humans could be extremely dangerous as when cases become less obvious it could spread undetected.

An interesting new paper by Derek Gatherer (2014) gives the initial history of this outbreak up to 20 April 2014. The outbreak commenced in December 2013 in the village of Meliandou in Gueckedou Prefecture, Guinea, and the index case was a 2-year-old child who died on 6 December 2013. Extensive logging is occurring in this forrested area. Fruit bats are the reservoir host of EBOV. Emerging infectious disease spill-overs and disruption of wildlife are often linked. The initial case fatality rate was 71%. Gatherer (2014) illustrates the sequence of movements that the virus took in its new human host.

Literature cited:
Gatherer D. The 2014 Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa. J Gen Virol. 2014;95(Pt 8):1619-1624.

Graph: Culumative cases and deaths in West African Ebola outbreak. Data from WHO Ebola reports. Open better quality copy

Posted by Rick Speare