Several Factors Contribute to the Rapid Spread and High Mortality Rate of Ebola in West Africa

OCTOBER 17, 2014

In this segment of “HCPLive Practice Brief: A Focus on Ebola for Practitioners,” Dr. Peter Salgo explains that the mortality rate of Ebola is quite high, noting that some strains are associated with greater mortality than others. For example, he says the Zaire species of Ebola virus has a mortality rate that exceeds 70 percent, whereas the larger outbreak in West Africa has a mortality rate closer to 50 percent.
Salgo says the World Health Organization is predicting 10,000 new cases of Ebola virus infection a week in Liberia, with a 70 percent case fatality rate. He asks Dr. Alfred Deluca for his opinion as to whether this high mortality rate is chiefly due to the lack of adequate healthcare in these affected regions versus other factors.
Deluca says that several factors are contributing to the rapid spread of the Ebola virus in several West African nations, including poverty, malnutrition, and intercurrent illnesses, along with social, economic, and education-related factors. Salso also identifies poor sanitation and inadequate plumbing as other contributing factors.


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