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TIMELINE: Ebola, a ruthless killer

DAKAR, Senegal (UPDATED) – From Guinea's forests to Senegal's capital, via Africa's most populous nation Nigeria, here are the main developments since the hemorrhagic fever Ebola emerged earlier this year in West Africa, spreading to five countries in eight months.

The epidemic, the worst-ever since the virus was first identified in 1976, has left more than 1,500 dead in the region, according to the World Health Organization.

Another strain has also been identified separately in Central Africa, where the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has announced its own hotspot.

MARCH 2014

- 24: Officials from Guinea's health ministry and the WHO say that from January to March 23 the country has recorded 87 suspected cases of viral hemorrhagic fever, including 61 deaths. They indicate that most cases have been reported in the forested south of the country.

Scientists studying samples in the French city of Lyon confirm it is Ebola. 

APRIL 

- 5: West African countries mobilize against an epidemic of hemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola. The measures include the deployment of medical teams at Conakry airport.

- 8: The UN's health agency, the World Health Organization, says the Ebola outbreak is among the "most challenging" for health workers since the deadly disease emerged elsewhere in Africa four decades ago.

- 10: International aid organizations launch a series of emergency measures across west Africa in a bid to contain the outbreak.

MAY

- 26: Sierra Leone confirms its first death from Ebola and said it is restricting travel in some areas to stop the fever from claiming more lives.

JUNE

- 18: Fresh data from the WHO confirms the outbreak to be the deadliest ever, with 337 deaths since January, a 60% increase in two weeks.

- 21: The WHO says the recent rapid spread of Ebola in the three countries has come in part because efforts to contain the deadly virus have been relaxed.

- 23: The outbreak is now "out of control" with more than 60 outbreak hotspots in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders says.

JULY

- 3: The WHO says at the close of a regional summit of health ministers on the crisis it expects the Ebola outbreak to continue for at least "several months".

- 25: The virus spreads to Africa's most populous country Nigeria, as a Liberian national dies in quarantine in Lagos. A day later the country places its ports and airports on alert.

- 29: After Nigeria's main airline Arik, pan-African airline ASKY suspends all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

- 30: Doctors Without Borders warns there is a risk of Ebola spreading to other countries.
Liberia announces it is shutting all schools and placing "non-essential" government workers on 30 days' leave.

- 31: Countries across the world announce stringent new security measures to contain the epidemic

The United States, Germany and France issue warnings against travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while Paris also includes Nigeria.

AUGUST

- 1: The head of the WHO and presidents of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia meet in Guinea to launch a $100 million emergency response, involving the deployment of hundreds of medical personnel to help overstretched workers and facilities.

The three countries announce a cross-border isolation zone around the epicenter of the outbreak in an attempt to prevent the spread of Ebola.

WHO chief Margaret Chan tells the leaders the outbreak is "moving faster than our efforts to control it".

Dubai's Emirates airline says it is suspending flights to Guinea, and Italy advises its nationals against travel to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

- 5: The World Bank earmarks up to $200 million (150 million euros) to help contain Ebola.

- 8: The WHO declares the Ebola epidemic a "public health emergency of international concern."

Nigeria follows Liberia and Sierra Leone in declaring a national emergency.

- 12: The WHO authorizes the use of experimental drugs in the fight against Ebola, after an ethical debate.

- 13: Liberia receives doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine ZMapp, which has shown positive early results.

Guinea declares a "health emergency".

Liberia imposes a nighttime curfew and quarantines two affected neighborhoods.

- 22: The fight to combat Ebola will take several months, the WHO says.

- 25: The WHO says that more than 120 health workers have died of Ebola.

- 27: The last major airlines still operating in Freetown, Monrovia and Conakry suspend their flights.

- 28: At crisis talks in Accra, health ministers from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS vow to strengthen their response.

The death toll reaches 1,552 cases, including 694 in Liberia, 430 in Guinea, 422 in Sierra Leone and six in Nigeria.

Scientists say the first human trials of an Ebola vaccine will start in early September in the United States.

Nigeria announces that the virus has reached its oil-producing hub, Port Harcourt.

- 29: Senegal confirms its first case, as a young Guinean tests positive.

– Rappler.com