In America, public discussion of Ebola died with the midterm elections. In West Africa, the viral outbreak scarcely skipped a beat. In just the past two months, the death toll to Ebola has increased by more than 3,000.
In October, Nigeria was declared Ebola-free. At the time, the death toll was at 4,493, and analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were careful to note that the outbreak was far from over. That forecast, sadly, was right.
As per the World Health Organization yesterday, at least 7,842 people have so far died of Ebola. There have been 12,565 laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus, says the CDC, with the agency suspecting that there are likely 20,000 cases in total. Just as before, almost all of these cases are in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The small outbreaks in the United States, Spain, Nigeria, Mali and now Scotland have been sideshows to the main crisis in West Africa.
That the Ebola outbreak has grown so large came as a surprise to pretty much everyone. Disease detectives who had been working in West Africa in the spring thought the outbreak was winding down, just as it was getting going. According to a new report from the New York Times, political dithering and a slow response helped Ebola spread from country to country, entrenching into the larger outbreak still going on today.