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West African Ebola passes 2,000 cases

The Aug. 15 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) details the increasing number of Ebola cases in West Africa. Through Aug. 13, there have been 2,127 confirmed, probable or suspected cases diagnosed in four countries. The death toll has risen to 1,145.

Map showing the spread of Ebola in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone through Aug. 14, 2014.
CDC / public domain

This Ebola outbreak originated in Guinea but the pace of the illness seems to have slowed greatly there. With just nine new cases, the country has reported a total of 519 illnesses and 380 deaths since the viral illness emerged.

Sierra Leone has reported the greatest number of Ebola illnesses, despite having been the third country to see the disease emerge. The WHO data shows 810 cases and 348 Ebola-related deaths.

Liberia continues to report large numbers of new Ebola cases, with 116 in this report alone. In total, the WHO has been told about 786 illnesses and 413 deaths in that nation. Liberia is reporting, as it can, the data on the outbreak in its country. As of Aug. 12, 86 health care workers have contracted Ebola and 36 have died from their illnesses.

Nigeria has only seen 12 cases. Patrick Sawyer, the "Ebola killer", was the first to fall ill and all of the remaining 11 cases had contact with him. Sawyer died from his illness. Two nurses who cared for him have also died as has a staffer who accompanied him from Liberia to Lagos.

The Guardian, on Aug. 13, reported in detail the last hours of Patrick Sawyer. They report that he got on the plane in Monrovia showing obvious signs of illness. He apparently vomited or had diarrhea several times during the long flight and was unable to stand when he arrived in Lagos.

As a diplomat, Sawyer, 40, was whisked from the airport by a private driver. The company car – in which he was again sick, according to a Nigerian health official – was taken to a diplomatic compound, and was not used again because it was a national holiday. But public health workers were on strike, so Sawyer was taken to a small family clinic. There, the team who tried to save his life did not initially suspect Ebola, or work with protective gear. At least one other patient at the clinic would later catch Ebola.

Three deaths are directly linked to exposure to Patrick Sawyer. Sawyer had visited his sister, age 28, in early July. His sister died the day after his visit. Tests then revealed that she died of Ebola. In recent public statements, the presidents of both Liberia and Nigeria have condemned him for his actions after that visit.

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