The World Looks to the USA for Leadership in Countering the Ebola Outbreak

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The ebola outbreak means that travel could be more dangerous. Image courtesy of the U.S. CDC

U.S. Leadership is the only constant in an uncertain world,’ according to U.S. President Barack Obama. Does that also apply to the ebola outbreak in West Africa?

Ebola Outbreak Continues

The scourge of ebola continues in West Africa, with 1,199 cases in Guinea – and 739 dead. Nigeria has 20 cases and 8 dead.

Liberia has 3,834 cases and 2069 dead, and Sierra Leone has 2427 cases and 623 dead- these numbers confirm that ebola is out of control. Liberia and Sierra Leone have been through difficult civil wars and their infrastructure cannot cope with normal cases of TB and typhoid which kill large numbers annually – much less this ebola outbreak. Senegal now has 1 case and no deaths.

In the U.S. – a man who traveled to Nigeria presented with symptoms of ebola in Washington, and hours later a patient presented with ‘flu-like symptoms and a travel history matching criteria for possible ebola’ in Maryland. And a Liberian man is in isolation in Texas with ebola.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital September 25, 2014

A Liberian driver, who did not inform Texas Health medical staff that he had been in contact with ebola, told a nurse he had traveled to the United States from Liberia when seeking medical care for ebola symptoms. Unfortunately, he was not diagnosed with ebola at that time, and was instead sent home with a course of antibiotics.

This, the first case of ebola in the U.S. – and the inadequate response by health officials – have increased fears the disease could spread throughout the country.

The ebola victim eventually returned to the hospital on September 28, suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting and was re-admitted. He was then put into isolation. At least four people he’d been in contact with are now under quarantine – with a guard making sure they stay home after they repeatedly broke quarantine.

Can the U.S. Medical System Handle Ebola?

‘The U.S. has the most capable health care infrastructure and the best health care workers in the world

This quote is attributed to Ms. Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s very confident counter-terrorism adviser.

On the other hand, U.S. workers are building hospitals, laboratories and treatment centres in West Africa. Many U.S. health workers have direct experience of treating ebola, having volunteered to work for Medecins san Frontieres (MSF) for 4 weeks at West African treatment centres. Unfortunately, many returned with minimal screening – even though they worked with ebola patients for at least one month, putting them at risk of infection. If Ebola enters the U.S. en masse, the medical system will be tested.

Ebola, West Africa, and the Outbreak: The Future

West African drivers, farm workers, taxi drivers etc., have succumbed to ebola, so fields are not tended and supplies are not being delivered by truck. To add to the problem, food is now in short supply in West Africa.

This writer has testimony from Irish Concern and MSF workers that the Sierra Leone and Liberian economies are collapsing. Outside intervention must be robust to succeed.

Ebola Doubling Times:

The same error regarding the doubling time recurs. The number of ebola victims in the initial outbreak remains unknown, so that 2,4,…512, 1024 doubling cannot apply. The 7, 14 & 21 weekly incubation times could find a large amount of ebola victims coalescing so that no treatment centre could cope. The world has woken up to ebola… But, thanks to the available health systems, help from other nations, and medical technology, this writer believes this epidemic will be contained.

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