The ongoing Ebola outbreak continues to ravage West Africa, fueling fear and paranoia as authorities try to educate the panic-stricken public on what’s going on. Aid workers are now describing the situation as an “unprecedented epidemic” with the potential to spread far beyond the region.
How did the outbreak begin? Guinea’s ministry of health first reported 86 cases of Ebola on March 24. All of the cases were from four southeastern districts: Guekedou, Macenta, Nzerekore and Kissidougou. By Mar. 27, four confirmed cases were found in Conakry, the capital of Guinea. Since then, the virus has crossed borders to spread to other countries.
The definitive cause of the outbreak has yet to be confirmed, although authorities suspect that it may have initially started by people eating bats. Fruit bats are considered a delicacy in Guinea despite the fact that they are the natural hosts of the Ebola virus. The government has now banned eating bats to prevent the disease from spreading further.