EDITORIAL

Ebola's perfect storm

Science  12 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6202, pp. 1221
DOI: 10.1126/science.1260695

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Summary

The devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the result of a perfect storm: dysfunctional health services as the result of decades of war, low public trust in government and Western medicine, traditional beliefs and even denials about the cause or existence of the virus, and burial practices that involve contact with contagious Ebola-infected corpses. There are now five affected West African countries: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and most recently, Senegal. Ebola has killed around 2000 and infected more than 3500, with over 40% of cases occurring within the past few weeks. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that 20,000 may become infected. This fast pace of Ebola's spread is a grim reminder that epidemics are a global threat and that the only way to get this virus under control is through a rapid response at a massive global scale—much stronger than the current efforts.