The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest in history. It effects multiple countries in West Africa, and the outbreak has produced over 23,900 total cases, as of February 2015, reports the Centers for Disease Control.
Ebola virus is a highly contagious hemorrhagic fever. Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids from an infected person. The incubation period for the virus can last from two days to three weeks, and people remain contagious as long as their bodily secretions contain the virus, states to the CDC. Symptoms of the virus include joint and muscle pain, fever, and internal and external bleeding, reports The Washington Post.
The 2014 outbreak is concentrated in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, three small, West African states. The hysteria surrounding the outbreak has caused various conspiracy theories, leading some of the local population to fight government aid workers, says The Washington Post.
Ebola had not previously been seen in these regions of West Africa, so the first cases were not immediately identified. Inadequate local health facilities did not have the materials to contain the virus. Additionally, the population is increasingly mobile, allowing the virus to spread quickly, states CBS news.
The 2014 outbreak involves the Ebola-Zaire strain of the virus, which has a fatality rate of up to 60 percent. CBS news reports that, while Ebola has a very high death rate, it effects far fewer people than other dangerous, infections diseases.