As the Ebola virus has reached humanitarian crisis status in Western Africa, many people are still unsure what exactly this disease is or why it is important.
The Ebola virus starts with flu-like symptoms on average up to 2 weeks after contracting the disease. It then progresses to muscle aches, joint pains, fevers, chills, sore throat and a rash. Later and more progressive stages of the virus can cause confusion, coma, multi-organ failure and hemorrhage. Plus, with a mortality rate of 50-90%, the disease is extremely deadly.
Fortunately, the Ebola virus is not spread like the common cold. However, those that come in contact with any secretions or blood of an infected victim are at risk of contracting it.
What makes this outbreak in Western Africa frightening, especially Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, is that it has effected more people than any other Ebola outbreak in history. Since March, there have been 1,201 cases of Ebola and 672 deaths just in these three countries. Liberia has become so overwhelmed they declared a humanitarian crisis and state they are unable to keep track of the virus any longer. Plus, Ebola has recently been brought to Lagos in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous city by a 40 year-old Liberian civil servant who did not know that he was infected.
Now, how it can affect you. First, the disease may take 2 weeks to show symptoms. Thus, a newly infected person could fly out of Western Africa (like previously mentioned) and into any of the world’s densely packed cities without ever knowing that he or she was infected. From there, the disease could spread rapidly and exponentially.
Also, not as well publicized on the news is that a jet carrying two infected Americans from West Africa will be returning to the United States so that the victims can receive care there. It is not certain where they will arrive, but the importance of the story is that we are importing an incurable disease into our country. Though the CDC has many incurable diseases they work on every day in the labs and there are numerous incurable diseases already in our country, do we need to risk the potential of having one more?
Indeed, the virus is just one plane ride away. Though the chances of a vast Ebola pandemic seems unlikely by in professional opinion, I must ask this one question: Are we prepared for the possibility of the next pandemic when it comes?
For a great medical/political thriller that projects the future of such an outbreak, please read the best selling novel, The New Reality. http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Reality-Stephen-Martino/dp/1611530741/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1396311308&sr=1-1