Places like airports have now become screening areas for the deadly virus called Ebola. These places are called temperature checks where a infrared gun is used to calculate if you are allowed to leave the country. This sounds like a movie from ten years ago. However, this is the current Ebola spread in West Africa, which is firing a need for international intervention.
West Africa is the source of this apparent Ebola epidemic. What is an epidemic? An epidemic is a disease that goes beyond the community and shows up in other places. SARS, sudden acute respiratory syndrome killed 800 people in 2003. A pandemic is much more severe, think HIV/AIDS or the Spanish Influenza which globally killed 40-50 million. The CDC and World Health Organizations will be extremely busy in attempts to contain and control further spread of a potentially fatal virus.
The countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, along with a smaller outbreak and different strain in the Congo. South Africa has closed their borders to citizens from known Ebola outbreaks. Even airlines are not going into these places. Three airlines; Air France, Brussels Air and British Airways halted trips to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Though fever is an early sign, it can take up to three weeks for symptoms to become apparent with one week or so being average. The temperature, a simple little vital sign, usually taken with a blood pressure and pulse by a nurse is now an important factor for travel in addition to questions about flu-like symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, pain or malaise.
Doctors Without Borders and The United Nations are taking steps and making an appeal for international intervention to address West Africa’s Ebola outbreak. The secretary general of the UN, Jan Eliasson, informed her colleagues that this is “a test to international solidarity.”
Dr. Margaret Chan, The World Health Organization head believes it will get worse and that it has been underestimated. The virus was first detected back in 1976. Dr. Joanne Liu, the president of Doctors Without Borders told The United Nations we need to set up mobile laboratories and hospitals for treatment.
The CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, warns of the Ebola epidemic worsening. Another American doctor caring for pregnant women and their deliveries has contracted Ebola in Monrovia. He isolated himself and is recovering.
Twenty five million dollars has been awarded in a contract form for Mapp Bio-pharmaceutical Inc.; The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services want the experimental Ebola drug availability expedited.
Recently, the experimental drug was given to two American patients which were treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Both patients were isolated, given the drug and cared for by intensively trained personnel. Both have recovered and gone home to their respective families. One of the patients has described the virus and accompanying symptoms as though he might die.
Opinion by Kim Troike