On March 23, 2014, the World Health Organization reported cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the forested rural region of southeastern Guinea. The discovery of these first patients marked the beginning of the West African Ebola epidemic - an outbreak that would become the largest in history so far, and the first to reach the shores of the United States. How many people in the US contracted Ebola? How many Americans have it today, in 2022? We’ll answer these questions and more in this article.
What are some of the symptoms of Ebola?
Ebola (also known as Ebola virus disease, or EVD) is a serious and deadly virus that affects humans and primates. Ebola is a serious, life-threatening virus that causes fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding. The virus is spread through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person and can lead to death in 25-90% of cases. Early symptoms include fever, muscle pain, and headaches, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding. Death typically occurs 6-16 days after symptoms appear. There is no specific treatment for Ebola, but early diagnosis and supportive care can improve the chances of survival.
How did Ebola reach the United States?
The Ebola virus was first reported in December 2013 in an 18-month-old boy from a small village in Guinea. After five additional cases of fatal diarrhea occurred, an official medical alert was issued on January 24, 2014. The Ebola virus soon spread to Guinea’s capital city of Conakry, and shortly afterward, the Pasteur Institute in France determined that the world was facing an outbreak of EVD caused by the Zaire strain.
On March 23, 2014, the WHO notified the international community of the significant new outbreak.
The situation quickly worsened, due to the poor public health infrastructure found in Guinea. The disease rapidly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, which both border Guinea. By July, it had reached the capitals of all three countries. Eventually, all the following nations had at least one Ebola patient:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Some of these infections were secondary infections of healthcare workers. Ebola tends to impact healthcare workers especially severely.
Ebola in the United States
During the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic, eleven people in the United States were treated for the disease. The first case was confirmed on September 30, 2014, when a man who had traveled from West Africa to Dallas, Texas was diagnosed. This patient (the index case) died on October 8, 2014. Two healthcare workers who had cared for him in Dallas tested positive for EVD but both recovered.
On October 23, 2014, a medical aid worker who had volunteered in Guinea was rushed to the hospital in New York City with suspected EVD. The next day, the diagnosis was confirmed by the CDC. This patient fought for their life and eventually recovered.
Seven other people in the United States were exposed to the virus and became ill while in West Africa. The majority of these patients were medical workers who were transported by chartered aircraft from West Africa to hospitals in the United States. Six of these patients recovered, but one died from the virus.
To prepare for the possible spread of Ebola in the United States and to help combat it around the world, the US CDC initiated a massive new training program for health workers. The CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center in July of 2014 and began to direct additional resources to combat the emergence of the disease.
When the Ebola virus outbreak struck West Africa, the CDC deployed personnel to help with response efforts. This included screening travelers leaving West Africa at airports to prevent cross-border transmission, training healthcare workers on infection prevention and control practices, and expanding laboratory capacity in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
More than 24,000 healthcare workers were trained in infection prevention and control practices in West Africa during the height of the response. In addition, more than 6,500 people were trained in live training events throughout the United States. By the end of 2015, laboratory capacity was expanded with 24 laboratories able to test for the Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
How many Ebola patients are there in the United States in 2022?
The incubation period for Ebola, from exposure to when signs or symptoms appear, can be anywhere from 2 to 21 days. The average is 8 to 10 days. Because patients with the disease do not remain sick for very long, none of the patients who were sick with Ebola during the 2022 outbreak have active infections.
The first human EVD case in the West Africa outbreak was likely infected via exposure to bats, according to the UK government’s assessment. In addition to bats, they report that people also catch Ebola after handling infected chimpanzees, gorillas, and forest antelopes, both dead and alive, in Cote d’Ivoire, the Republic of the Congo, and Gabon.
Since none of these sources of Ebola are present in the US, and since no cases have been imported to the United States, there are currently zero Ebola cases in the United States in 2022. However, the current outbreak of Ebola is spreading and may soon lead to a scenario where some Americans become infected.
The table below shows historical case data for prior outbreaks:
|Country||Total Cases (Suspected, Probable, Confirmed)||Laboratory Confirmed Cases||Total Deaths|
|Countries with Widespread Transmission|
The data is sourced from the World Health Organization. Note: While there were 11 patients with EVD in total treated in the United States, only four patients became ill after they arrived in the United States, either after exposure in West Africa or in a healthcare setting.
Ebola-Cases.com tracks global data on the 2022 Ebola virus disease outbreak. You can refer to the United States page to track the number of Ebola cases in the United States in 2022. Because the site is updated daily, this will be one of the first places you will be able to go to view information about any Ebola outbreak in the United States. We will also aggregate and share any information about the number of American Ebola cases and deaths on our Twitter account, so be sure to follow it for up-to-date information on the 2022 Ebola outbreak.