Sunday, October 12, 2014

As Ebola Concerns Increase

  • In 1994, Richard Preston’s best-selling book “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus” increased awareness of this highly infectious and deadly virus that first appeared in a central African rain forest.
  • From 1976 (when Ebola was first identified) through 2013, the World Health Organization reported 1,716 total cases.
  • The 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, which is affecting GuineaSierra Leone and Liberia has resulted in over 8,000 cases and about 4,000 deaths.
  • Last week, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said "In my 30 years in public health, the only thing that has been like this is AIDS," and "We have to work now so that this is not the world's next AIDS."
  • Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group said, “With Ebola’s potential to inflict massive economic costs on Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and the rest of their neighbors in West Africa, the international community must find ways to get past logistical roadblocks and bring in more doctors and trained medical staff, more hospital beds, and more health and development support to help stop Ebola in its tracks.”
  • Note: A World Bank report (Oct. 9, 2014) said, “If … the epidemic spreads into neighboring countries, some of which have much larger economies, the cumulative two-year impact could reach US$32.6 billion by the end of 2015 – almost 2.5 times the combined 2013 GDP of the core three countries. “
  • While there are many factors enabling the spread of Ebola including 1) a lack of medical infrastructure in the initially affected countries, 2) risky burial practices and 3) insufficient monitor of the virus, early stage responses by the international community have been insufficient.
  • Let’s hope the recent calls to action will be quick and effective.

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