Monday, August 4, 2014

THE EBOLA VIRUS - Is it getting closer?

Why it's harder to contain this Ebola epidemic
Chicago Tribune
August 4, 2014
Dr. Kent Brantly, left, treats an Ebola patient at the Samaritan's Purse Ebola Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. On Saturday, July 26, 2014, the North Carolina-based aid organization said Brantly tested positive for the disease. (Samaritan's Purse/AP)
Ebola outbreaks have occurred in Africa more than two dozen times over the past 40 years, and they have been brought under control every time. This was possible thanks to reliable techniques, such as preventing direct contact with infected persons and monitoring all people who did come into contact with an infected person. Anyone showing early symptoms was put in isolation. Despite no effective treatment or vaccine, these standard approaches worked.
Unfortunately, today's outbreak is different. And unless we invest more resources in fighting it, and coordinate the response across countries, the outbreak will spread further. If that happens, economic and political chaos could follow.
What's different about this outbreak? The Ebola virus hasn't changed; Africa has.
First, residents of the affected countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — travel much farther and have many more contacts than they did in previous decades. Following up on all contacts who live a few miles from a case is much easier than tracking down people who may live far away. With modern transportation, family members may travel hundreds of miles to be with sick loved ones. And more of this outbreak area, in West Africa, is urbanized than where many of the previous outbreaks occurred in Central Africa, so the virus spreads faster.

MORE: EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE - World Health Organization