Beating Ebola

September 22, 2016
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The Ebola epidemic in West Africa was an unprecedented health crisis, causing more than 11,000 deaths and destabilizing three countries. It eventually mobilized a coalition of countries from the United States to China, as well as the African and European unions. Neither the nations most affected nor the international community were prepared for an epidemic of a highly lethal virus on such a scale. They had to learn on the fly: hands-on experience of Ebola outbreaks and patient care was scant. We now have a much larger body of experts and knowledge, which will be invaluable for preventing and controlling future outbreaks.

Two very different books on the epidemic have now emerged. Anthropologist Paul Richards’ Ebolais an original account of how Sierra Leone in general, and 26 villages there in particular, interpreted the epidemic and wider responses to it, and acted on it at its peak. Ebola’s Messagehas a broad interdisciplinary focus on West Africa’s outbreak. Covering aspects from media response to bioethics, it is edited by philosopher Nicholas Evans, molecular epidemiologist Tara Smith and computational epidemiologist Maimuna Majumder.

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