CRS - The 2014 Ebola Outbreak: International and U.S. Responses, Tiaji Salaam-Blyther, Specialist in Global Health. August 26, 2014.
“Ebola virus disease (Ebola or EVD) is a severe, often fatal disease that was first detected near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1976. Originating in animals, EVD is spread to and among humans through contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of those infected. It is not transmitted through the air. On March 22, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that 49 people had contracted EVD in Guinea, West Africa, and 29 of them had died. As of mid-August, the virus had quickly spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. The Ebola virus that is circulating in West Africa is not new, but the current Ebola outbreak has infected and killed more people than all previous Ebola outbreaks combined. As of August 20, 2014, the WHO reported that 2,615 people had contracted the disease, of whom over 1,427 have died, slightly less than the combined cases (2,387) and deaths (1,590) from previous outbreaks…In July 2014, two U.S. citizen health workers contracted Ebola in Liberia and were first provided medication that had shown promise in animal studies but that had not yet been tested in humans. They were evacuated to the United States to receive additional care. Debate in the United States has ensued regarding entry and exit rights of people infected with communicable diseases; whether the international community (including the United States) had responded early and effectively enough to contain the virus; the appropriate use of experimental drugs that had not yet been tested for human safety and effectiveness, including how to choose recipients of scarce and sometimes costly drug supplies and how to arrange dispensing to allow analysis of safety and effectiveness; and feasible approaches to accelerating drug and vaccine development and the scale-up of manufacturing capacity for investigational products.”