There is one word putting fear into the hearts and minds of people all over the world. It’s called Ebola. Judging by what’s happened so far, and what is likely to happen in the future, we should all be worried.
It is already one of the deadliest diseases in the world. It has killed more than four thousand people. The number of people infected is double that figure. If it is allowed to rampage around the world, and it this point I don’t know what is going to stop that from happening, then Ebola could affect all of us.
Scientists say this disease is going to get much worse before it gets better. The World Health Organization says there are more than eight thousand suspected cases but this figure could be much, much higher due to under reporting of the disease especially in places like Sierra Leone and Liberia where health authorities would not have a clue.
Health map modeling show the eight thousand cases of Ebola, as of the 10th of October 2014, are expected to jump to more than 18 thousand over the next four weeks. Yes, I said 18 thousand cases. The United States Centre For Disease Control says Ebola cases in Liberia are doubling every 15 to 20 days, while the number of cases in Sierra Leone doubles every 30 to 40 days.
The Disease Control Centre estimates Liberia and Sierra Leone will have 1.4 MILLION cases within the next three months.
In a nutshell, Ebola is a virus that invades cells and replicates like fury. It will hijack a person’s immune system and somehow make the body’s natural defences turn on themselves. It hoodwinks blood into clotting where clotting is not needed, for example around the liver and then it goes about damaging the lining of blood vessels, to such an extent, that infected blood cells packed with replicated versions of the original virus smash their way through like wrecking balls. With the body’s clotting agents already used up, the tiniest break in skin membrane will lead to heavy bleeding, sometimes from the nose, fingernails or anus. Victims die from multiple organ failure as their blood pressure drops away to nothing. And anyone who has come into contact with infected bodily fluids is at great risk of contracting the disease. At the moment it is incurable but there is one drug, while untested, that’s had some success in fighting Ebola. The one saving grace is that at the present time the disease can’t be spread through the air or by insect bites. But Ebola has the capacity to mutate itself which means it could end up being able to do what it can’t do at the present time. And if that happens God help all of us.
West Africa has the highest concentration of cases. The disease has been confirmed in seven countries around the world. The World Health Organization divides the cases into a couple of categories. Those with widespread and intense transmission like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. And those with localized transmission including Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States of America.
Yes. I said the United States of America. This past weekend, a nurse who cared for a man in the United States, who died from the disease, has tested positive for Ebola. A breach of health protocols has been blamed for allowing her to become infected. But what has health officials scratching their heads is: how did the breach happen? More importantly, how did it occur in a country where absolute state of the art equipment and protective gear was available?
What happens next is the inevitable waiting game to see who else, who came into contact with the nurse, might now become infected with the disease. It is insidious and contagious. Police are now guarding the home of the infected nurse. US health authorities say another 50 people who came into contact with the man who died from Ebola in the United States are also being isolated and monitored.
There are widespread calls for countries around the world to do more to combat this disease. The Australian Prime Minister is on the public record saying it is too risky to put boots on the ground in West Africa but that attitude is a bit like putting your head in the sand and pretending Ebola doesn’t exist.
In my view, we have to confront this thing with everything we have got. We simply can’t allow it to become a scenario where the only thing we can say is you should have listened, I told you this would happen, because there might not be anyone left to hear it.