Here is another addition to Africa's woes. It is now reeling under a virus that is a potential competitor to HIV and the deadliest killer of all - Ebola (from the river Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo). And for the uninitiated, this disease is so lethal that the incidence of death is nearly 90% and many a time the doctors and the nurses treating the patients become the eventual victims.
It is so contagious that it can spread through not just the body fluids (saliva, stool, blood and sweat), but by mere contact with the infected person (even contact with clothes), because the viral particles remain present on skin in large numbers, so much so that a mere skin biopsy is good enough to detect the presence of the virus. The virus had its first outbreak in 1976 in Democratic republic of Congo, an outbreak which resulted in more than 400 deaths.
Till date there has not been any viable vaccine or medicine to prevent or cure the disease, which more often that not, leads to a violent death through bleeding. But the problem with Ebola doesn't end here. On the contrary, it actually starts here. There is a direct correlation between the rapid spread of Ebola and lack of proper sanitation, which is why it has affected many of the sub Saharan African countries which has some of the worst hygiene conditions. Not just the lack of cure, up till today, researchers have not been able to identify its origin.
The bigger scare is, owing to its fast spreading capability, Ebola can at anytime be a potential weapon for bio-terrorism. So it becomes imperative for the developed world consider it as a global crisis than just any other African crisis and thereby concentrate on efforts to contain its spread before the virus takes any such ugly shape or takes the HIV proportions and spreads outside the geographical boundaries of Africa.