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Updated on January 2016

The Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was the first to hit West Africa. Between March 2014 and January 2016, about 28,640 cases of Ebola were reported, and 11,315 deaths. The vast majority were in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, with a number of cases in Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Spain and the US. These numbers are recognised to be a considerable underestimation. The outbreaks in Guinea and Sierra Leone were finally declared over in November and December 2015. WHO declared Liberia to be Ebola-free on 13 January 2016.

Between March 2014 and January 2016, about 28,640 cases of Ebola were reported, and 11,315 deaths.

Epidemiological research identified a two-year old girl from Guéckédou, southeast Guinea, as the first suspected case, who died in early December 2013 (ECDC 09/06/2014). The outbreak was publicly announced by the Guinean Government on 22 March 2014 (EC 11/04/2014). Up until the end of May only Guinea and Liberia had been affected (ECHO 24/06/2014). During the first week of April, it looked as though the control measures would bring the situation to a halt, however, during the last week of May, there was a surge in the number of new cases as the outbreak spread to previously unaffected areas of Sierra Leone and Liberia (ECDC 09/06/2014). The outbreak persisted for months more.

Ebola had never been experience in West Africa before, and its impact was unprecedented, reaching almost every aspect of peoples' lives. Already weak health systems collapsed, neither able to treat Ebola victims nor to provide non-Ebola-related healthcare. Illness, death, and restrictions on movement to prevent disease transmission impacted livelihoods. Survivors and relatives of people who died from the disease faced stigmatisation.

Ebola's impact was unprecedented, reaching almost every aspect of peoples' lives.

What is the Ebola virus disease (EVD)?

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. EVD outbreaks can have a case fatality rate of up to 90%. Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter is a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name. EVD is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (WHO 04/2014).

No licensed vaccine for EVD available. several vaccines are being tested, but none are available for clinical use. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Patients are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids. No specific treatment is available. New drug therapies are being evaluated (WHO 04/2014). 

ACAPS projects

ACAPS was involved in supporting humantiarian decisions in the Ebola crisis between 2014 and 2015.

With a first six-month project funded by DFID, the Ebola Needs Analysis Project - ENAP, ACAPS was able to offer a comprehensive and independent picture of the outbreak’s impact on affected populations. Through the provision of monthly analytical reports focusing on humanitarian needs, and regular multi-sectoral field data collection, ENAP enabled the humanitarian community to better understand the crisis in order to be able to take better decisions.

In September 2015 ACAPS launched a new project to analyse the humanitarian needs resulting from the Ebola epidemic in the affected countries. The Ebola project, a three-month project funded by ECHO, will produce a series of in-depth thematic reports aimed at people making decisions on strategy, programme design, and advocacy work. This project will build on the knowledge of the context and partnerships forged through ACAPS’ previous Ebola Needs Analysis Project.

Contact info@acaps.org for more information on the project and its weekly and monthly reports.