Ebola: Time to Take Action
by Natalie Perlov on Friday, October 17th, 2014
Since the first break out in March 2014, Ebola has become one of the world’s foremost concerns, especially taking into consideration the ease with which the disease spreads.
First discovered in 1976, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) takes its name from the Ebola River, located near one of the two villages in which it originated: Yambuku and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Formerly known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, the disease causes an acute illness with an average fatality rate of 50%.
Current concerns surrounding Ebola stem from its largest and most complex outbreak this past spring, which originated in Guinea and later spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and Senegal. Experts have often debated what kind of a role developed nations should play in the prevention of Ebola and whether or not the afflicted countries should bear the responsibility of containing the virus. Due to the nature of the disease and the status of the nations affected by it, as well as the simplicity of possible preventative measures, countries—even hospitals, institutions, and individuals—with the ability to fight Ebola must do everything in their power to help combat the deadly disease.
When humans come into close or direct contact with the bodily fluids or organs of ill or dead animals, they run the risk of being infected with Ebola. In turn, these people’s bodily fluids and infected materials (i.e. bed sheets or clothes) contaminate those whom they touch. This spring, travelers brought Ebola from Guinea to Nigeria and Senegal. The ease of travel, coupled with Ebola’s simple transmission, creates quite a formidable foe, one that has gathered already three or four countries as opponents.
Additionally, countries currently afflicted by the disease, such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, simply lack the human resources and infrastructural necessary to fight the disease on their own. Such countries have only recently emerged from prolonged periods of conflict and political instability, rendering them extremely weak and vulnerable in the face of such a catastrophic disease.
Clearly, outside intervention is essential. Developed countries have more resources available to raise awareness and prevent the spread of Ebola, so they must help their less fortunate counterparts in fighting this most recent outbreak. Teaching people to take simple precautions, such as thoroughly cooking animal meat and animal products, wearing gloves when handling animals, wearing appropriate protective equipment when dealing with patients, and maintaining good hygiene dramatically reduces the spread of Ebola. Easier said than done, these precautions are often almost impossible due to the lack of resources like soap and clean water in developing countries.
In addition, more innovative and advanced technologies not available in several West African countries could help with both early supportive care and more complex medicinal developments. To control outbreaks, the global community must unite and engage in fighting Ebola. With surveillance and monitoring of infection, case management, medicinal and lab treatment, safe and clean burials, and help from individuals and institutions, all nations can make a difference and help contain the devastating disease.
Ebola is now a prevalent part of our global concerns. People everywhere wonder how they can prevent the spread of Ebola and therefore protect themselves. Due to its easy transmission and the risks that travelers between countries take, Ebola affects everyone, not just countries currently suffering. Those countries without sufficient infrastructure and resources where Ebola is most prevalent require even more aid. Outside intervention is crucial and a simple solution in preventing the spread of this disease.
There is simply no excuse for ignoring the needs of those currently afflicted by Ebola; if we do, in the words of Thomas Frieden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, we risk “turning Ebola into the world’s next AIDS.”
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