West Africa. Disrupted by Ebola outbreak, 2014
Country: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone
Type of disaster: infectious and deadly Ebola disease
Disaster: the Ebola virus spreads rapidly owing to inadequate aid, ignorance and fear
Estimate number of victims: almost 7,000 deaths by end of 2014
In early 2014 a highly infectious viral disease called Ebola causes an epidemic in Guinea. A small boy and his mother die, probably after eating bush meat from jungle animals such as apes and bats. The funeral spreads the virus further. Even before the summer, there are Ebola victims in a number of countries in the region. The countries hit hardest are Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with the number of sick people continuing to rise. Tackling the virus proceeds with difficulty, because it has spread over a huge area and people travel a lot. Moreover, local people often have little knowledge and sometimes refuse help because they believe that the disease does not exist. In addition, there are not enough doctors and hospitals to help everybody.
Ebola is a highly infectious disease, and between 70 and 90 percent of infected patients die from it. To ensure that the virus does not spread any further, it is therefore vital to find and isolate infected people. But there is resistance in many local communities. Sometimes the population hinders the efforts of relief workers out of suspicion, ignorance and fear. Aid workers are even driven away with violence. Among the many wild stories that circulate are that Ebola patients are given an injection in hospital so that they die. Some people also believe that the disease has been made up by the government to scare people. That is why relatives sometimes take infected patients from clinics and hide them, or patients escape from hospitals and hide themselves. And thus the infection spreads further.