The growing Ebola virus outbreak not only highlights the tragedy enveloping the areas most affected but also offers a commentary on they way in which the political ecology in West Africa has allowed this disease to become established.
The narrative goes that the virus appeared spontaneously in the forest villages of Guinea in December 2013. But this is debatable given that there is evidence of antibodies the Ebola virus in human blood from Sierra Leone up to five years previously. Previously only one case of Ebola had been reported in the region, and it was the Ivory Coast strain of the virus. The strain detected in the blood samples is of the more virulent Zaire strain of Ebola, the same strain responsible for the current epidemic.
After months of very little concerted action it’s clear that the disease is now seriously in danger of spreading out of control. The global health community has declared it a crisis of international importance, which has led the host nations to implement draconian preventions strategies, tantamount in some places to martial law in terms of surveillance, quarantine, border controls and other logistical aspects of control. But this is too little, too late.