The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been devastating to the region, with researchers and health workers scrambling to contain the virus. Scientists have been trying to identify the outbreak’s first patient, and may have traced its roots to a two-year-old African boy.

A report by the New York Times goes into greater detail of how the toddler and his family all succumbed to the hemorrhagic disease. The boy lived in the village of Guéckédou in Southeastern Guinea, which shares borders with both Sierra Leone and Liberia. The boy fell sick on Dec. 6, and a week later it took his mother and grandmother.

The location of the village made for easy transfer of the disease across the region, after mourners for the boy and other fallen members took the virus to their village. A health worker and a doctor who treated him also contracted the virus and died.

More from the Times:

Now, with 1,779 cases, including 961 deaths and a small cluster in Nigeria, the outbreak is out of control and still getting worse. Not only is it the largest ever, but it also seems likely to surpass all two dozen previous known Ebola outbreaks combined. Epidemiologists predict it will take months to control, perhaps many months, and a spokesman for the World Health Organization said thousands more health workers were needed to fight it.

Much of how the spread of Ebola has overtaken the region stems from the fact that the region has never never dealt with it before and was caught off guard. Despite successful earlier efforts to stamp out the disease in places like Uganda, health experts say that the strategy applied to the recent containment efforts has been paltry at best.

To read the Times piece in full, click here.

Photo: afreecom/Idrissa Soumaré/Creative Commons

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