oa South African Journal of Bioethics and Law - The Ebola crisis : ethical challenges in the African context : editorial

Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1999-7639



The current outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa is proving particularly challenging to contain. At the time of preparing this editorial, over 2 500 lives have already been lost since the index case, which involved a 2-year-old child who died in December 2013. This outbreak was officially reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) towards the end of March this year. The Ebola virus is a filovirus that is believed to be harboured by specific bat species in the affected regions. Transmission is from bat to bat and spill-over occurs into other animal species, in particular antelope and primates. Spill-over to humans is through contact with infected animals or direct contact with infected bats. Once a person is infected, mortality is reported to be between 60% and 90%, and the disease spreads quickly through contact with infected tissues and body fluids of affected persons. It is therefore not surprising that EVD is now one of the most feared diseases of the globalised world.

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