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01 Sep 2014

(Bleach, chlorine, and soap can kill the virus.) That makes Ebola much more difficult to contract than common diseases carried by air or insect such as tuberculosis and malaria both of which have been linked to far more deaths than Ebola in West Africa this year. Q: How did this epidemic start? Recommended: Think you know Africa? Take our geography quiz. Public-health experts believe patient zero was a 2-year-old boy who died in the village of Gueckedou, in southeastern Guinea, in early December 2013 likely having contracted the disease from an infected local fruit bat. But it took until March of this year for the disease to be properly identified, by which time it had already killed his entire family and spread to dozens more people in both Guinea and neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. Q: What has made this outbreak so difficult to contain? For one thing, health care in the three countries hardest hit conflict-hobbled Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is massively underresourced. Liberia, for instance, had fewer than 200 doctors in the entire country when the epidemic began, and Reuters estimates that fewer than 50 are still working many stopped working out of fear, while others left the country. Only a few died as a result of working with Ebola patients. Even more significant, however, is the lack of knowledge about Ebola specifically.
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