A virus that causes people to bleed from their ears and pops open blood vessels has spread from remote tropical forests in Guinea to the West African country’s teeming capital.
It has hopped the border to Liberia and is suspected in more than 90 deaths in an outbreak Doctors Without Borders has called “unprecedented.” It is almost always deadly, and there is no vaccine or treatment.
Is it time to panic?
The answer from health workers responding to an Ebola outbreak in West Africa that began last month is a qualified “No.”
Transmission requires such close contact that the chance of a widespread epidemic is unlikely.
So although health officials try to avoid creating hysteria, they are also trying to make sure that people living in affected areas watch for symptoms in themselves or others, avoid contact with people who are ill and suspend burial practices that involve touching the dead.