Friday, 5 September 2014
Man-Made Diseases - 2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak
2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak: An epidemic of Ebola virus disease (EVD) is ongoing in West Africa. The outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013, but was not detected until March 2014, after which it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. The outbreak is caused by the Zaire ebolavirus, known simply as the Ebola virus (EBOV). It is the most severe outbreak of Ebola in terms of the number of human cases and deaths since the discovery of the virus in 1976, with the number of cases from the current outbreak now outnumbering the combined cases from all known previous outbreaks. Another outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has 53 possible and confirmed cases and 31 deaths as of 2 September 2014, is believed to be unrelated to the West African outbreak.
As of 31 August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a total of 3,707 suspected cases and 1,848 deaths (2,106 cases and 1,050 deaths being laboratory confirmed). Many experts believe that the official numbers substantially understate the size of the outbreak because of families' widespread reluctance to report cases. On 28 August, the WHO reported an overall case fatality rate estimate of 52%, considerably lower than an average of rates reported from previous outbreaks.
There is something almost contradictory around the idea of man-made diseases. It could easily create images of mad scientists or evil terrorists creating the ultimate in biological weaponry. At this point the conspiracy theorist in all of us starts to wonder about the origin of any number of diseases and we look over our shoulders cautiously to see if Big Brother is standing there.