Ebola at a Glance

The first victim of the 2014 Ebola outbreak is thought to have died in December of 2013. (Source) The current outbreak is almost a year old. Why does the 2014 epidemic continue to drag on?

Infections can be easily spread across African national boundaries by trans-national tribes such as the Kissi tribe, and by the many African bush wars that are always cropping up. There is a limit to what international agencies and workers can do under the conditions prevailing in many African countries.

“This thing was happening at the nexus of three countries that do not see any difference between themselves. I don’t think the world was taking that into account,” said Fair, who has lived and worked in Sierra Leone for much of the past decade. “We were classifying it by country; we were saying the outbreak was in Guinea. So you had skeleton teams in Sierra Leone and Liberia.” __ What went wrong

Fruit Bats Know No Border

The viral reservoir for different Ebola variants is thought to be African species of fruit bats. Various species of fruit bats range across a large part of tropical Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, all the way to North Australia and some of the South Pacific islands. Fruit bats can carry up to 100 species of viruses. One reason that fruit bats make such good viral reservoirs may be their unique immune systems.

Ebola Virus and the Fruit Bats that may be the Reservoir World Health Organization

Range for Ebola Virus and Possible Fruit bat Reservoir
World Health Organization

The virus is thought to travel from fruit bats to humans via intermediate animal species that are hunted for their meat. But the 2014 Ebola outbreak may have started from “direct” bat to human contact.

Ebola in the Wild

Ebola in the Wild

According to projections by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the epidemic could reach 1.4 million cases by late January if current trends continue. These numbers are unfathomable; there are only 4.4 million people in all of Liberia, the country now hardest hit by the outbreak. __ What Went Wrong

When a virus begins to run out of susceptible hosts, the epidemic slows — and eventually burns out. It all comes down to starving the virus of susceptible hosts. This is what people in Africa need to do.

If treatment is really unlikely to help victims, then in a big outbreak it might best to avoid attempts at close contact nursing, and rely on quarantine and subsequent disinfection as the best way to save more lives. Perhaps hydration packs distributed to homes under quarantine would be best… __ Solving Ebola

Using methods of conventional medicine to treat a deadly and incurable disease in the primitive third world is counter-productive. All of the western volunteers, missionaries, and aide workers who were infected and died, were victims of a faulty paradigm. It would be different if effective vaccines and therapies were available, but as long as they are not, it is best to fall back on harsh quarantine measures from the early days of public health.

Ebola Graphic Summary of Outbreaks National Post

Ebola Graphic Summary of Outbreaks
National Post

Good intentions combined with political correctness will just get a lot more people killed for no good reason. International leaders, health care directors, and public health chiefs need to get a grip before Ebola panic takes over. And — African governments and African people themselves, as unintelligent, corrupt, and incompetent as they may be, have to make most of the hard decisions to stop such epidemics.

Ebola Since 1976 TheStar.com

Ebola Since 1976

As African populations continue to expand, swelling primitive slums to the bursting point and pushing populations into disease reservoirs, we must expect to see more and more deadly African epidemics of various types.

HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, Cholera, Measles, etc. are the big infectious killers at this time. But if good intentions gone wrong combined with political correctness and human incompetence continue to open doors to the Ebola virus, the death count can go much higher than the current levels of around 5,000 in the 2014 outbreak.

The prevailing Idiocracy in sub Saharan Africa makes the scenario of an ever-expanding Ebola epidemic imaginable, although not likely. The relatively low contagion rate of Ebola compared with other serious viruses continues to help limit the damages — as alarming as they appear at first sight.

Ebola hysteria in North America may have slowed a bit in the past few days, but there is no reason for international public health officials, West Africa, or the Congo to breathe easier just yet.

The deadly Ebola virus is frightening in its impact on human bodies, and holds the potential to generate far worse outbreaks than have yet been seen in the years since discovery in 1976. In its current form it can be stopped — even in Africa — if tough-love public health measures are used in place of conventional medical treatments that do not work anyway.

Compared to other causes of death in Africa, Ebola’s contribution has been unimpressive:

Causes of Death in Africa Source:  Vox (via NBF)

Causes of Death in Africa
Source: Vox (via NBF)

Update: Splendid portrait of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and the ongoing scientific efforts to understand and defeat the virus (via Outside In “chaos patch”)

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