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Ebola flares up in Liberia once again

Another ebola outbreak has occurred in Guinea and Liberia, though for now the risk of a larger epidemic appears slim.

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"Ebola virus virion" by CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith - Public Health Image Library

Just a few years ago, much of Western Africa was under threat of an ebola outbreak that was threatening to reach biblical portions. Following a massive influx of aid, resources, and expertise from the World Health Organization, United States, and other parties, the massive outbreak was largely brought under control.

Yet while ebola may no longer be threatening to overwhelm countries in Western Africa, new cases continue to crop up. This past Sunday a five year old boy tested positive for the virus. The child’s thirty year old mother had died just a few days prior.

She wasn’t the only casualty in the most recent flare up either, with at least three other people dying in nearby Guinea. Still, while four deaths is a tragic burden, it’s a far cry from the thousands of people who died during the worst of the outbreak.

In total at least 11,300 have succumbed to ebola over the past two years. The vast majority of casualties and infections occured in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

While Sierra Leone has so far escaped the most recent flare up, one person died and a hundred were quarantined following an outbreak in the country this past January. On March 17th Sierra Leone declared that there were no more active transmissions in the country, though future outbreaks may still occur.

Even though the pandemic has since been brought under control and world health experts no longer believe that there is a serious risk of a global health risk, outbreaks continue to occur. Following the most recent cases Liberia closed its borders with Guinea, but the porous borders and lax immigration control means that many people can still cross freely.

Ebola is regarded as one of the most lethal viruses known to man, with casualty rates frequently topping 50 percent. New treatments, however, have so far proven effective, and in the future may help reduce death rates.