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  1. #1
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    Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

    According to the latest news this outbreak is now out of control.

    My neighbor next door teaches nursing and she said that this could get very very bad.

    Ebola is a hot virus and spreads quickly. It has entered urban areas now which means it can spread far and wide.

    She feels that it will eventually go to the top of news stories in the next several weeks, even eclipsing the mess in Iraq.

    Paging Stephen King.....
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  2. #2
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    I used to live in Guinea very close to where this outbreak began and was actually there visiting at the start of the outbreak. It's very upsetting and worrisome, but as of now it pales in comparison to other (less glamorous) constant scourges like malaria and diarrhea. The Guinean healthcare system is really unprepared for something like this and would be easily overwhelmed by it. There have been longstanding problems with weak governance and corruption and when you get out to the rural areas, local politics start to dictate which clinics get stocked with limited supplies, which never included the kind of protective gear needed for this kind of hemorrhagic virus anyway. This is where a group like MSF can really help with their specialized equipment and organized clinics, but they can't be everywhere and at least one of their clinics had to be shut down temporarily because of rioting youth.

    I'm not surprised it has spread throughout the country and abroad since there is a lot of mobility between the cities and villages. And unfortunately, I'm hearing that it's been difficult to educate people in some regions about how to protect themselves from it, because there's a belief that ebola is a made-up conspiracy by President Conde and his party to delay some political proceedings, or even purposely introduced by the west to do harm. So some cultural practices that put people at risk for ebola (certain funeral traditions, marriage structures and consumption of bats and other bushmeat) are more difficult to adjust.

    Still, I'm actually relieved it's not worse at this moment - I always thought of previous outbreaks in central Africa being limited by taking place in such isolated villages that I was afraid it would just explode in such a populated place. The recipe for disaster is certainly there, but at this moment it still really doesn't hold a candle to what malaria causes.

  3. #3
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    I agree with zippy. Ebola is actually not that contagious compared to a lot of deadly diseases. You have to touch blood or bodily fluids, which is why cultural traditions are a huge factor. In the US (not sure about Western countries but it's probably similar), we are so grossed out by the blood and spit (and other things) of strangers and animals, I don't see how it would spread that quickly here.

    It doesn't specify in the articles, but I'm also guessing that a lot of the victims in West Africa are healthcare workers or caregivers, who have to come into contact with blood and bodily fluids. Or people who work with infected animals.

    I have no doubt that Ebola will jump to the top of the headlines, because it feels as inevitable as a shark attack. And just as rare, compared to things like malaria, pneumonia, TB, diarrhea, etc. Also, because of its high fatality rate and the fact there's nothing you can really do about it besides provide support for the body to fight it itself. If there was an algorithm for producing the most headline-getting disease, Ebola would be it. That or mad cow disease. (If you want to give yourself nightmares tonight, read about prions!)

    And like zippy mentioned, because it requires so much clinical support and isn't as easy as giving antibiotics one time, I can definitely see how ebola can overwhelm a country with limited healthcare resources.

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    I found a couple of interesting articles on the subject:

    Through the looking glass: Guinea, Ebola and life before germ theory
    (some background on the virus and cultural attitudes affecting the epidemic)

    Dispatch from Guinea: Containing Ebola
    (a human perspective that highlights the sad fact that this virus punishes close, loving families the most)

    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    In the US (not sure about Western countries but it's probably similar), we are so grossed out by the blood and spit (and other things) of strangers and animals, I don't see how it would spread that quickly here.
    That's a good point - if nothing else it would be easier to follow procedures for containment in the US. Part of the problem that causes ebola to spread would be pretty universal (at least some physical contact with deceased or dying relatives is pretty normal in many cultures), but in those articles above it mentions families somehow being allowed to take home their loved ones to die at home, and others being hidden in the woods and not alerting authorities. That kind of distrust for the medical establishment and competing cultural beliefs, and the lack of ability to enforce policies, wouldn't be a factor as much. As for bodily fluids, there are definitely some differences in norms and realities that might play a role, but luckily it seems that Ebola isn't very transmissible until the person is showing symptoms. That doesn't protect healthcare workers though, as you say. Another factor would be the differences in quality control when it comes to meat. It's totally not legal or normal to sell meat from a dead animal you found in the woods in the US, for instance. But in Guinea there's a big and completely informal market for meat from hunters, and honestly it's the best meat around. No way to know if it ate an infected bat before it made its way to your dinner plate, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    I have no doubt that Ebola will jump to the top of the headlines, because it feels as inevitable as a shark attack. And just as rare, compared to things like malaria, pneumonia, TB, diarrhea, etc. Also, because of its high fatality rate and the fact there's nothing you can really do about it besides provide support for the body to fight it itself. If there was an algorithm for producing the most headline-getting disease, Ebola would be it. That or mad cow disease. (If you want to give yourself nightmares tonight, read about prions!)
    So true - there's something about Ebola that has a way of capturing the imagination in a horror movie kind of way, but it's probably based on some kind of Hollywood version not entirely based on reality. I remember a high school teacher of mine gleefully telling us that Ebola was going to wipe out mankind and that it "liquifies the organs". And then mad cow disease has me wondering about hamburgers I ate 12 years ago. I do wonder as this outbreak continues, if the Ebola virus will evolve to become less virulent and maintain a low level of endemicity like Lassa fever does. In any case, Guinea is a beautiful country coming off some tough years, so it's sad to see this happening. But life is certainly going on as normal right now.

  5. #5
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    The outbreak just got worse and the first case was just registered in Nigeria. Now one of the top doctors treating Ebola patients, Sheik Umar Khan, has himself contracted the disease. And healthcare clinics and workers are being attacked by locals because of misinformation.

    http://www.takepart.com/article/2014...ve-their-lives
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ebola-c...tack-1.2599555

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    Ebola is a minute drop in the bucket compared to Malaria, which is difficult to avoid in sub Saharan Africa in particular.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/.

    Less than one thousand deaths in one year compared to over 600,000 for Malaria. Malaria doesn't have the glamorous Hollywood movie case fatality rates, but it's far deadlier because the chain of infection is difficult to control and widespread. Very few become exposed to Ebola, but millions contract Malaria. I blame the "Hot Zone" and the exploding nun sensationalism contained therein.

    Ebola case fatality rates from 1976-2012-

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

    The Zaire strain is the hottest. Last time it broke in DRC, the case fatality rate was down to 44%. Still incredibly high, but it doesn't infect enough people for all these gloom and doom pandemic scenarios.
    Last edited by leesaleesa; 07-26-2014 at 06:44 PM.

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    But the chances of surviving an Ebola infection is much less than malaria.

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    A second doctor has died of the Ebola virus and a 2nd foreign healthcare worker has contracted the virus as well.


    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2...positive-ebola

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    Liberia has closed most border points to help curb the spread of Ebola.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28522824

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz View Post
    The outbreak just got worse and the first case was just registered in Nigeria. Now one of the top doctors treating Ebola patients, Sheik Umar Khan, has himself contracted the disease. And healthcare clinics and workers are being attacked by locals because of misinformation.

    http://www.takepart.com/article/2014...ve-their-lives
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ebola-c...tack-1.2599555
    Dr. Khan has died

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/29/health...ies/index.html

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    What I heard on the news, this morning, is that the location makes it so much worse. Typically ebola outbreaks are in remote areas with little traffic, in an out of the area. However, it is now in a fairly high traffic area, and it can take 3 weeks to incubate. Therefore people who have been exposed, have traveled on to other places. There was also concern about air travel, since there are (at least 2) cases where people have flown and then gotten sick.

  12. #12
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    The Ebola victim who died in Nigeria was an American citizen resident in Liberia who was planning on returning home before he died. Now Nigeria has quarantined 59 people who came into contact with the infected victim. Two American aid workers have also fallen ill with the Ebola virus and are in isolation.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ebo...n-wife-n167546

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