There are many important efforts at mapping the Ebola virus. WHO, CDC, Harvard University’s HealthMap, ESRI and citizen efforts organized by the American Red Cross are among the most comprehensive mapping efforts supporting efforts to understand and stem the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
The WHO’s 2014 map on the geographic spread of the Ebola virus in human and animals is a fascinating overview map that details all known outbreaks as well as the known range of fruit bats. Based on current thinking about the reservoir population, the map of the distribution of fruit bats is important in understanding the outbreaks in human and animal populations. Continue reading
The Ebola outbreak of 2014 is the worst on record. The current outbreak has sent shock waves throughout the international system. There are heightened irrational fears and anxieties about the Ebola spreading to every other corner of the globe. Just like the early days of HIV/AIDs, a virus-hysteric global populace, and a sub-group within this populace that is Africa-phobic, are doing untold damage to the region by recovering the old colonial era representation of “Africans and disease.” Ebola misinformation is all too apparent on social media, e.g. twitter, without much realistic assessment of the geographical spread of Ebola in order to determine the past as well as the potential future geography of the disease.
Unfounded fears about the virus have also been common on the ground in local communities where the outbreaks have occurred. Rural communities in West Africa distrust of government information and unrealistic expectations of international public health officials sent into their communities has not helped contain the spread of the virus. Rumors of the virus being a hoax are commonplace. Local resistance to acknowledging Ebola and medical staff shortages are producing a lethal situation. Because there is no known cure many families opted to keep Ebola-inflected relatives at home. Large “shadow zones” in rural areas have emerged where Ebola contagion proceeds. In urban areas, combinations of disbelief and anxiety among city inhabitants challenge the establishment of quarantine and isolation centers in my backyard (NIMBY). Controversially West Point, a large slum community (the estimated population is 70,000) in Monrovia, Liberia has been sealed off and quarantined in a government effort to isolate cases among the poor and contain the virus. Continue reading