The recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has not been brought under control since it became part of international attention early 2014. As of 15 August the suspected and confirmed cases added up to 2127, leading to 1145 deaths in the region (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The outbreak is not only unusual in its absolute numbers of cases and deaths (before the current outbreak a total of 2387 cases and 1590 deaths have been recorded by the World Health Organization since the virus was discovered in 1976), but also in its geographical patterns: While WHO obervations in the past mainly occurred in the tropical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa (affecting mainly Congo, DR Congo, Gabon, Sudan and Uganda), the current and by far largest outbreak is observed in the previously unaffected countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and (less servere) Nigeria). The following map shows not only that Ebola is restricted to Africa, but to a very small part of the continent. It shows the countries of the world resized in a Worldmapper-style cartogram according to the total number of cases in each country in 2014 (to date):To put the outbreak into further context, the following maps show the death counts of all Ebola outbreaks to date, as well as two split maps of deaths in 2014 and pre-2014:
These visualisations highlight how unusual the current pattern of the outbreak is geographically, and how severe the ongoing epidemic has become, compared to the preceding observations of almost four decades. In these overall patters, there is little difference in the relative distribution of deaths and the (much higher number) of cases. Ebola remains fatal in about 60% to 65% of cases, and thus in the affected regions the overall distribution of cases – of the current as well as of previous outbreaks – remains very similar to the distribution of deaths shown above. The following maps show this in comparison in a cartogram series of Ebola cases (total as well as split in the 2014 and pre-2014 outbreaks):