The Source: The Ebola Outbreak, How It Spread and How It Stopped
The 2014 Ebola outbreak terrorized Africa and shocked the world. But how did it happen? What made it different from other outbreaks and what finally stopped it?
A new Frontline documentary, Outbreak, aims to answer these questions. Filmmaker Dan Edge says the disaster was a culmination of bad luck and big mistakes. Though help from the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders came quickly, the virus wasn't properly identified for months. While doctors still thought the disease could be malaria, Ebola had already spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone. Eighteen-month old Patient Zero lived in a border village, granting the virus perfect access. Guinea WHO officials' lack of Ebola experience also helped turn the early cases into a widespread outbreak. Another factor was the fear of economic repercussions, which made governments and organizations slow to declare a disaster.
To stop the outbreak, quarantines, education, and safe burials became crucial. Learning the dangers of caring for or burying infected patients helped villagers ultimately protect themselves. Even so, this outbreak became the biggest in history. Before the virus could stop, Ebola infected victims in Africa, the UK, and the United States with over 25, 000 cases and more than 10,000 deaths.
Outbreak airs tonight on PBS KLRN at 9 PM.
- Dan Edge, filmmaker and director of Frontline's Outbreak