A Timeline of the Current Ebola Epidemic

The New York Times ran a story on its front page last Sunday on “Patient Zero” in the Ebola outbreak spreading through Western Africa. Researchers suspect that the current epidemic started with a 2-year-old boy who died on Dec. 6 in Guinea. His mother, sister, and grandmother soon died afterwards, after falling ill with the same symptoms.

This week on Spend Matters PRO Thomas Kase covered the implications that Ebola and epidemics in general could have on supply chains. To accompany the research brief, here is a rough timeline of how the epidemic developed.

December 2013

  • A 2-year-old boy dies in Guéckédou, Guinea from suspected Ebola. His sister, mother, and grandmother die afterwards, as does the village midwife.


  • Ebola begins to spread throughout southern Guinea.
  • A health care worker from the Guéckédou hospital dies. Later, the doctor who treated the worker dies.


  • Guinea bans bat soup. Fruit bats, a popular food in western Africa, are highly likely to carry the filovirus that causes Ebola.
  • Doctors Without Borders calls the current Ebola outbreak “unprecedented” and warns that controlling the epidemic will be difficult.


  • First confirmed death from Ebola in Sierra Leone.


  • Two American aid workers are infected with Ebola.
  • Lagos, Nigeria reports its first case of Ebola.
  • Sierra Leone’s lead Ebola doctor becomes infected with the virus and dies.


  • The two American aid workers are transferred to Emory University Hospital for treatment.
  • The World Bank pledges $200 million in emergency funding to Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
  • The U.S. issues travel warnings for Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
  • British Airways temporarily suspends flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • Liberia and Sierra Leone impose quarantines in counties with the highest rates of Ebola infection.
  • Spanish missionary priest Miguel Pajares, 75, dies despite being treated with ZMapp.
  • The World Health Organization approves the use of experimental drugs.
  • The death toll rises to 1,013 people. Another 1,848 people have been infected.
  • The supply of the experimental drug ZMapp has been exhausted after maker Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. provided doses to Liberia.
  • Guinea declares a national health emergency, which means tighter border controls and immediate isolation of anyone suspected to have Ebola.
  • The first tests of a vaccine for Ebola are at least a month away.

Where the epidemic progresses from here is anyone’s guess. But the Emory University Hospital’s decision to accept the two American patients is a highly encouraging development as it brings the treatment and study of Ebola to one of the world’s most advanced medical facilities. As Emory’s head nurse Susan M. Grant wrote in The Washington Post, “The insight we gain by caring for them will prepare us to better treat emergent diseases that may confront the United States in the future. We can also export our new knowledge to treat Ebola globally… today, diseases do not stay contained to one city, country or even continent.”

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