Ebola has infected nearly 1,100 people and killed 660 of them in the current West African outbreak, according to the World Health Organization. It's the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded. The virus has spread across borders between Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and was taken by airliner for the first time ever when a Liberian citizen, Patrick Sawyer, collapsed a week ago after flying into Lagos. He’s since died and two tests came back positive for Ebola.
Two Americans--a doctor and a health worker--have both been infected with the virus in Liberia, where they were working as part of a North Carolina-based organization trying to save the lives of Ebola patients.
One bright spot — early treatment seems to help patients survive better, even though there’s no specific treatment for Ebola. In some outbreaks, 90 percent of patients have died, but the death rate in this outbreak is closer to 60 percent, and Strickland [Melissa Strickland, director of Samaritan's Purse in North Carolina says it’s possibly because patients are being identified earlier and getting supportive care, such as saline solution, to prevent dehydration.A story on BBC News indicates that the virus was first identified in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1976, and has spread out from there. The virus was named for the river near the village where the first patient was identified. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control notes that the most likely carriers of the disease (besides infected humans) are bats, although monkeys may also be a reservoir.