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On July 23, an outbreak report in _The Lancet Infectious Diseases_ documented the case of a female Ebola survivor who transmitted the virus to family members more than year later. This is the first known instance of a female survivor with persistent capacity to transmit the virus long after infection (it was already known that the virus can persist in semen for up to two years and be sexually transmitted).
Amanda Glassman Vice President for Programs and Director of Global Health Policy Center for Global Development
Along with my colleagues at the Center, I have been watching the Ebola epidemic unfold in West Africa and keeping a close eye on the world’s response. As you know, this outbreak was unprecedented in scale and impact. Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea endured a total of more than 28,600 cases of the virus and 11,300 deaths. The disease took a heavy toll not only on families, but also on the health systems and economies of the afflicted countries.
This is a joint post with Alan Whiteside, CIGI Chair in Global Health Policy, BSIA and Professor Emeritus, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Since the first case of Ebola appeared last year, the virus has infected nearly 10,000 people. The epidemic is concentrated in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea — post-conflict countries with incredibly weak health systems. It stands to have severe health, social, and economic consequences and is arguably the most pressing challenge to global health security the world has faced in decades.
As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa endures, some parallels are being drawn between the virus and HIV/AIDS. Both are spread by quite specific human behavior which is under conscious control: HIV by unprotected sex, Ebola by unsanitary burial practices, and both by contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. However, with an incubation period of less than three weeks, Ebola progresses from infection to infectiousness more than 100 times as fast as untreated HIV. Thus, Ebola is like a pre-treatment HIV epidemic on steroids.
By Justin Sandefur
This is a joint-post with Alaina Varvaloucas. Varvaloucas is a student at Yale Law School and formerly worked for Oxford University’s Centre for the Study of African Economies, based in Freetown.