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Four maps that explain the Ebola outbreak

October 19, 2014

    Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

    The Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa in December 2013 has infected more than 9,000 people and killed more than 4,400—making it the deadliest outbreak of the virus since it was first identified in 1976. (By comparison, the next largest outbreak of Ebola infected 425 people and killed 224.)

    As Daily Briefing readers know, we've been monitoring the Ebola outbreak since it emerged as a public health threat in early 2014. Here are four maps that illustrate the scope of the outbreak and how it's being handled in the United States.

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    The global picture

    In this graphic, my colleague Rich Van Haste has mapped out the global outbreak and the seven nations where Ebola cases have been diagnosed.

    The map does not include a separate outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That outbreak has infected an estimated 68 people, killing 49 of them.

    How Nigeria stopped Ebola in its tracks

    The Ebola workers who become Ebola patients

    Since the outbreak began, more than 400 health care workers have been infected, and more than half of those workers have died of the fast-acting disease.

    Ebola does not spread easily through casual contact, but health care workers tend to have a lot of contact with the bodily fluids of Ebola patients, which transmit the virus.

    Care providers—especially nurses—treating patients at the end of their lives face an especially high risk because the virus replicates more rapidly as the disease progresses, according to Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine in Houston. By comparison, physicians treating patients in the ED would be less likely to become infected—despite fewer precautions—because patients in the early stages are not as infectious.

    Understand why health care workers are so susceptible

    Ebola in the United States

    This summer, Ebola first arrived in the United States—by a secure airplane with a biocontainment unit.

    Emory University Hospital agreed to care for two U.S. missionaries who became infected while caring for patients in West Africa. It was the first of a handful of hospitals to care for Ebola patients, including one Dallas hospital that diagnosed the first U.S. Ebola patient.

    Monitoring those exposed in the United States

    With the U.S. cases, health authorities are struggling to identify and monitor hundreds of people who may have had contact with the first U.S. patient with Ebola and two infected nurses who cared for him.

    Officials now are notifying, monitoring, or quarantining several different types of possible contacts with the three Ebola patients, including:

    • Individuals who may have been in contact with Duncan before he was hospitalized;
    • Health workers who cared for Duncan in the hospital;
    • Individuals who may have been in contact with the two infected nurses before they were hospitalized; and
    • Individuals who may have been in contact with one of the nurses when she traveled to Ohio just before being diagnosed with the virus.

    This graphic by my colleague Christina Lin breaks down the issue:

    What you need to know about Ebola

    The Daily Briefing has been tracking the Ebola outbreak since early 2014, and the Advisory Board's experts have created myriad resources for hospitals to help them prepare for the potential cases and reassure their communities about the disease.

    Here's an overview of our top coverage and resources.


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