Ebola virus disease

A year of the Ebola response "at a glance"

25 March 2015 -- In a year of working to control the West African outbreak, which started in Guinea forestière, a region where the borders between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone meet, and eventually spread to nine countries, WHO has mounted its largest emergency operation ever. WHO is now present in 77 field sites with more than 710 staff across 3 most affected countries, as well as personnel in Mali. Here, in an at-a-glance summary, are the elements of that response - the people, the equipment, the research and technical advice and information needed and provided to stop case numbers rising, and bring them ever closer to zero.

WHO/R. Sorensen
Logistician Jose Rovira-Vilaplana overseeing distribution of 2.6 tons of PPE to Conakry's first treatment centres and other locations.

Ebola diaries: All in a day’s work

WHO is publishing Ebola Diaries, first-person accounts of WHO staff and others deployed to the field for Ebola response since the first cases were reported in West Africa on 23 March 2014. This diary is by Jose Rovira-Vilaplana, logistician, who was in the first WHO response team to arrive in Guinea in March 2014. Logisticians are the “doers” – the ones who make sure that everything is in place so that a response can take hold. Their work requires everything from overseeing construction of treatment centres, to taking swabs from cadavers for laboratory testing, to garnering support for necessary outbreak activities.

WHO/T. Jasarevic
Ebola outbreak: Stéphane Hugonnet, WHO in Guinea

Ebola diaries: Hitting the ground running

19 March 2015 -- WHO is publishing a series, Ebola Diaries, with first-person accounts of WHO staff and others deployed to the field for Ebola response since the first cases were reported in West Africa on 23 March 2014. This second diary is by Stéphane Hugonnet, who was one of the first WHO experts sent to Guinea to investigate cases of Ebola reported in late March 2014. A medical doctor who has spent the past 20 years working for WHO, MSF and others, managing outbreaks ranging from cholera, measles and yellow fever, to Lassa, Ebola and meningitis, Dr Hugonnet found a very different sort of outbreak when he arrived in Guinea.

WHO/C. Taylor-Johnson
Mobile laboratory in Guekedou, where laboratory personnel inactivates Ebola virus to analyse the samples

Ebola diaries: First signals

18 March 2015 -- WHO is publishing a series, Ebola Diaries, with first-person accounts of WHO staff and others deployed to the field for Ebola response since the first cases were reported in West Africa on 23 March 2014. This first diary by Dr Pierre Formenty recounts how he received word of a cluster of cases in Guinea thought to be caused by Lassa virus but with features that made him very concerned that this was not Lassa fever but possibly Ebola virus disease, and how urgent testing revealed it was in fact the first ever outbreak of Ebola Zaire in West Africa.

WHO/Stéphane Saporito
Yemisi Ighodalo, a lab technician at work in the EMLAB mobile laboratory in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Nigerian mobile lab in Sierra Leone: bringing skills learned in one outbreak to another

19 March 2015 -- A Nigerian mobile lab has been operating in Sierra Leone as part of the international effort to help test Ebola samples in the current outbreak. The lab saves critical hours by testing the samples rapidly and reducing the need to transport samples over long distances. The lab plans to return to Nigeria to work on Lassa fever when the Ebola outbreak is over.

WHO/Pieter Desloovere
WHO staff visits the fishing community of Aberdeen in Freetown, Sierra Leone, during the Ebola outbreak

Tracking Ebola in the fishing community of Aberdeen in Freetown

10 March 2015 -- In February 2015, cases of Ebola began appearing among the community of fishermen living in the coastal area of Aberdeen in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Over 20 cases occurred at the same time, suggesting they had been infected by one source, possibly an unsafe burial. WHO and partners immediately sent teams into the district to work with the community to identify all Ebola cases and those who had been in contact with them, to prevent further infections.

Photo: WHO/D. Licona
WHO Director-General Dr Chan shaking hands with Rebecca Johnson, nurse, Ebola survivor, Sierra Leone 2014

Ebola in West Africa: 12-months on

15 January 2015 -- One year after the first Ebola cases started to surface in Guinea, WHO is publishing this series of 14 papers that take an in-depth look at West Africa’s first epidemic of Ebola virus disease. The papers explore reasons why the disease evaded detection for several months and the factors, many specific to West Africa, that fueled its subsequent spread.

UNMEER/Martine Perret



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WHO officer talking to villagers of Kamosondo that are trying to rebuild their primary health care unit after being overwhelmed by the care of Ebola patients, Port Loko district of Sierra Leone, 2014.

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