What Made the 2013 Ebola Outbreak Different?


Most people know that the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak that mainly took place in 3 West African countries was the largest in history. A final tally of over 27,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths gives this most recent outbreak a strong lead over the second largest outbreak which took place from 2000-2001 in Uganda which had only 425 recorded cases and 224 deaths. And while most of us may be aware of its relative size, do we know why it was exponentially worse and further reaching than previous outbreaks? What specific factors contributed to the unprecedented spread we saw over the course of 3 years?

A recent study published by the CDC addresses these questions and offers up a handful of contributing factors. Many of these contributing factors have been thoroughly discussed throughout the outbreak such as poor surveillance and diagnosis, along with a general lack of trust from the population while others not as much such as the role of genetic variation in the virus.  Finally, the study discusses current priorities in Ebola research and outbreak management necessary to more efficiently contain the next outbreak.