One year on: Ebola has killed 10,000 and the danger 'is not over'

It is exactly a year since the deadliest outbreak of Ebola was confirmed. Credit: Reuters/Misha Hussain

Exactly a year ago today the deadliest outbreak of the Ebola virus was confirmed and health experts and charities have warned the danger is far from over.

More than 10,000 have died and at least 24,000 have been infected since the epidemic broke out in Guinea in December 2013.

The three-month delay in its official recognition has been blamed for its rapid spread to neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia, while other west African countries such as Nigeria and Mali also suffered fatalities.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has released a report to mark the anniversary, which it dedicated to the 500 healthcare workers who have died while fighting Ebola, including 14 involved with the charity itself.

It said there was little sharing of information between the affected countries at first, while their governments tried to downplay the problem for fear of causing panic and driving visitors and investors away.

The Ebola outbreak has often been described as a perfect storm: a cross-border epidemic in countries with weak public health systems that had never seen Ebola before. Yet this is too convenient an explanation. For the Ebola outbreak to spiral this far out of control required many institutions to fail. And they did, with tragic and avoidable consequences." >

MSF general director Christopher Stokes

Meanwhile Oxfam has said more efforts should have been put into engaging the community rather than focusing exclusively on medical treatment when the epidemic first broke out.

It said governments and aid agencies, including Oxfam, got the balance wrong and preventative measures should have been explored rather than purely technical solutions such as more beds, medical workers and medicines.

Although the number of cases has decreased in recent months it will take 42 days without any new cases before a country can be declared Ebola-free.

Liberia announced it had discharged its last patient earlier this month but a woman has been diagnosed with the disease in the last few days, while Guinea has just reported its highest weekly case total so far this year.

Sue Turrell, head of Oxfam's Ebola response, said: "We are still a long way from getting to zero cases, but the direction of travel is positive and we cannot take the foot off the accelerator.

"Once people were fully involved, understood what they had to do to remain safe and were helped to do the things that they knew would work, the tide began to turn against Ebola.

"If a greater emphasis in community engagement had happened much earlier it is more than likely that many fewer lives would have been lost."