Are we being subjected to a sanitised version of the risks of contracting Ebola by government, in order to avoid panic?
The first reported case of the current outbreak of Ebola virus was in Guinea in December 2013. From there it has spread across West Africa to become the epidemic it is today.
ORIGINALLY DETECTED 38 YEARS AGO:
The first outbreak of Ebola was recorded in Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.
In that outbreak, of 318 cases, 280 died. In the same year in Sudan a further outbreak was discovered in which 151 people died of 284 infected. We even had one death in the UK in 1976 while laboratory tests were being carried out on the virus.
From end of 1976 until 1995 there were sporadic outbreaks of Ebola in low numbers, 1- 52 confirmed cases per outbreak. 1995, again in the Democratic Republic of Congo, saw the next biggest outbreak of 315, of those, 250 deaths were recorded.
From 1996-2001 further low number outbreaks occurred in various African countries until, in 2001/2 Uganda had an outbreak (termed Sudan virus), in which 224 died of 425 infected. From 2002 until the latest outbreak, almost annual flare up’s occurred across the West African area.
These confirmed cases numbered from one to 100-plus. While the demography of these outbreaks is widespread, the Congo, where the first case was discovered, has had recurring outbreaks over the years.
38 YEARS, AND STILL NO VACCINE:
Now, in 2014, are we paying the price of the first outbreak being in Africa?
Medical research is an expensive business. While research has been carried out over the years into the virus; the big pharmaceutical companies have shied away from the massive cost of developing, scientifically trialling, and producing a vaccine capable of containing and defeating the virus.
Why, because the cost couldn’t be recouped marketing the product to a third world country. The current risk of Ebola spreading to the developed nations has spurred on new development. The chances of financial compensation have suddenly been greatly improved.
SO WHAT’S GONE WRONG:
Much has been made of West Africa being a poor, underfunded, backward area when it comes to fighting Ebola.
Lack of medical facilities and finance, Ignorance by the population about what precautions to take, lack of medicines and equipment; the list goes on. None of it makes any sense.
Prior to this current outbreak, the maximum number of deaths recorded in any single outbreak numbered in their low hundreds. So why, in the area of its origin are we, 38 years later, seeing thousands of deaths, and thousands more who have contracted the virus.
We can only assume, as in western nations, medical science and technology has improved in the West African region. Maybe not a lot, but even in these countries improvements must have been made.
The World Health Organisation, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Stanford University; all say Ebola is thought to be spread to humans via bats, by infected monkeys and chimpanzees, or by handling Ebola contaminated wild game. While wild game is a common source of meat in this region I doubt people go out everyday expecting to get bitten by a bat.
Populations have increased, and no doubt people movement is a lot easier and quicker than it was 38 years ago. As the panic set in, and people rushed to get away from the area, contamination has spread throughout the region.
Why though, has the response been so abysmal as to allow such a rapid growth in the spread of the disease? Is there something else? Has Ebola morphed into something deadlier, which the medical scientists have missed…or don’t want to tell us about?
There are already three or four strains of Ebola. Now, is there another, more deadly strain, resistant to known treatments and preventative measures? Certain sections of the media are already likening it to Bubonic Plague (Black Death), which took such a toll across Europe in the Middle Ages.
AND SO TO EUROPE:
Spain has become the first country where someone has contracted Ebola having never been near West Africa.
According to all the health experts and spokespersons, basic sensible precautions are all that are required by people who come into contact with Ebola. Health workers are supplied with full-body over garments, including helmets and safety glasses.
Washing ones hands in a dilute chlorine or bleach solution should kill any possible bacteria. Spraying or dipping footwear in a similar solution should stop it being carried outside of the infected area.
Ebola can only be transmitted via bodily fluids. Runny noses, eye sockets, cuts or scrapes on the hand or body, or blood, vomit, saliva, faeces or semen splashes from an infected person. So they tell us.
Ebola virus can only survive a number of hours on any surface. Washing contaminated surfaces with the same solution will kill it. So they tell us.
A female Spanish nurse, involved in treating a missionary bought back to Spain having caught the disease, has also contracted it. Spain has some of the best medical facilities in the world. This nurse was carrying out her job wearing full protective equipment in the prescribed manner. Yet she has tested positive twice, why; how?
Currently a further six people have been put in quarantine and 30 more are being monitored for potential symptoms.
TO CLOSE FOR COMFORT:
Living as I do, just 180 miles off the west coast of Africa, the problem is a tad closer than I would like.
The Spanish coastguard regularly intercepts illegal immigrants from all areas of the west African coast, heading for the Canaries. Rescued from unseaworthy, sinking boats, they are transferred to the coastguard cutters and bought ashore for processing. How long before the first Ebola carrier steps ashore, and a new outbreak is triggered and begins to spread, before the authorities realise what has happened?
Images care of: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=10038445
A British expat who has lived on this Island of Tenerife for over twelve years.A full time freelance writer, most of my time is spent article writing. I also write on D2C, Writedge, and wherever takes my fancy. For fun I try to increase my portfolio of short stories, with a view to eventually getting them published.