Is the Ebola Scare justified or not?
US NEWS- William Raymond Collier Jr- In March of 2014, Guinea announced the outbreak of the Ebola virus in their country. Since then ,732 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have died, including Guinea’s leading Ebola doctor, who contracted the disease while treating patients.
Much has been said of the Ebola virus and there are fears that the virus could spread to the United States or Europe. The United Kingdom’s Cobra Committee, a committee which has special emergency response functions, has even met to discuss the threat.
There are fears that the virus could spread abroad from West Africa as people travel by air. In fact, Nigeria and many other nations have banned flights from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. All three countries are launching massive public outreach efforts to raise awareness and isolate the outbreak. But the main problem for these countries stems from a substandard health care system and issues with early detection. If detected early, Ebola can, in fact be treated, but it requires a fairly sophisticated medical regimen that these nations cannot provide. Moreover, with proper sanitary precautions, the potential for an outbreak is also very limited.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, this is the treatment for Ebola- Standard treatment for Ebola HF is still limited to supportive therapy. This consists of:balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytesmaintaining their oxygen status and blood pressuretreating them for any complicating infections.
Timely treatment of Ebola HF is important, but challenging, since the disease is difficult to diagnose clinically in the early stages of infection. Because early symptoms such as headache and fever are nonspecific to ebola viruses, cases of Ebola HF may be initially misdiagnosed.
However, if a person has the early symptoms of Ebola HF and there is reason to believe that Ebola HF should be considered, the patient should be isolated and public health professionals notified. Supportive therapy can continue with proper protective clothing until samples from the patient are tested to confirm infection.
This treatment regimen, as provided by the CDC, requires a sophisticated medical response and capability that is lacking in the affected countries.
Were an Ebola infected individual to arrive in the US or Europe, especially with existing screening measures, the likelihood of them contaminating someone else would be reduced simply because of existing sanitary measures. Once health officials determined they had Ebola, a fairly sophisticated system for finding and screening anyone they came into contact with is in place.
The virus spreads by more intimate contact. In other words, by bodily fluids or by eating or drinking anything the infected person has allowed to come into contact with bodily fluids, or by sharing utensils. In the West, our culture and our sanitary regimen mitigate against much of this.
To be clear- the virus is only transmitted via contact with such bodily fluis blood, urine, faeces, saliva, or puss (from open sores) – and thenfrom someone showing symptoms of Ebola.
If someone is infected and it is caught early on, treatment is known to work and, like any virus, Ebola is eventually killed by the body’s immune system. There is no “cure” other than to treat the patient as prescribed and allow their immune system to do its job, which eventually it will. So when you read that “there is no cure”, that is true, just as there is no cure for the common cold!
This does not mean that it is impossible for some people to initially catch Ebola from a foreign passenger and, if their infection is not detected, for some to even die. Exercising an abundance of caution when traveling to affected locations or when interacting with people who have come from those locations is prudent and necessary.
But once anyone has been discovered to be infected, in the US or Europe the regimens in place to quickly isolate them and find everyone they have been in contact with and the degree of intimate contact needed to become infected will severely limit any outbreak in the West.
The real issue and concern should be, after of course proper precautions have been taken at home, those people in the affected countries who do not have all these advantages and who are even now living in fear for their lives from this deadly outbreak.
An excellent article with interviews of health officials and statements from WHO and the CDC should also help allay fears. VOX Article On Ebola