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The 2014 Ebola outbreak and the risk of future pandemics

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The 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa is by far the largest outbreak of Ebola virus ever recorded. The countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have recorded more than 25,000 cases with more than 10,000 deaths and the epidemic has spread across international borders affecting several countries in Europe and the United States. The Ebola epidemic is a stark reminder that viral hemorrhagic fever viruses – including Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa – can lead to devastating outbreaks with massive humanitarian and economic consequences. What is particularly problematic about these diseases is that we do not currently have any approved vaccines or drugs, and outbreaks can now be expected to occur in highly populated areas with limited healthcare infrastructures. It is critical that we learn from this outbreak, and to prevent future outbreaks we need to make significant investments in the healthcare infrastructure and pathogen surveillance in the endemic countries, while continuing to develop effective diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines.

This talk is part of the Gut feeling: how bacteria influence our wellbeing series.

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