The Ebola virus that brought West Africa into the world’s spotlight this past August is the most deadly outbreak ever recorded, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC statistics show that as of Aug. 31, 2014, there have been 3,707 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola. Of those 3,707 cases, 1,848 people have died.
Researchers have been searching for a cure for Ebola, as well as a source of the outbreak. Ebola is easily transmitted, and can be spread through contact with blood secretions, organs and other bodily fluids.
The corpses of those who succumbed to Ebola are still highly infectious. In Africa, where funerals and burial ceremonies are largely public affairs, the risk of infection is significantly higher.
According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is also spread through the health centers and treatment facilities set up for Ebola victims.
The U.S. government became concerned with the Ebola outbreak when it was revealed that two U.S. citizens who were working as missionaries in Liberia contracted the deadly disease.
Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were working at the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia when they tested positive for Ebola.
After much debate, Brantly and Writebol were sent to Emory University Hospital, near the headquarters for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. There, Brantly and Writebol were placed in isolation and received treatment of the experimental drug, ZMapp.
After three weeks of intensive treatment, it was determined that both Brantly and Writebol were cured of the Ebola virus disease. In order to be deemed “cured,” two separate blood tests for the disease must both come back negative. Researchers believe that Brantly and Writebol are now immune to the disease, although they cannot be sure.
CNN is now reporting that another American doctor, Dr. Rick Sacra, has been diagnosed with the Ebola virus. Sacra was working in Monrovia, delivering babies at a general hospital when he came in contact with the disease.
He started showing symptoms on Aug. 29, and was tested for Ebola. Sacra had been to Liberia many times before, and had volunteered to go back when he heard Brantly and Writebol contracted Ebola. Sacra was flown to the Nebraska Medical Center on Sept. 5, where he is currently receiving treatment in Omaha.
Doctors are working to develop a cure for the Ebola virus, and hope this latest outbreak will be its last.
Editor’s Note: Information from CNN, NBC and the WHO was used in this report.