When Does Ebola Become A Real Epidemic?


When do we decide that we are in for a real epidemic?
When do we decide that we are in for a real epidemic?

When do we really begin to worry?

Ebola is an exceedingly deadly disease that comes from Africa’s West Coast, killing the vast majority of those infected.  It derives its name from the river Ebola which is around where the first human cases were discovered. It is believed, by most to be the result of contact made by human beings with fruit bats which seem to be the original hosts of the disease. There are also theories that it may have come from the consumption of monkeys as did the AIDS virus. All of this is still conjecture and we really do not know. But if indeed either of these cases is true, then the disease   is   a trans-species transmission and these tend to be very dangerous in that there is little human resistance to the effects.

If anything, the suggestion that this disease came from either fruit bats or monkeys  gives the disease a dark aura of being something like a curse on humanity for transgressions made against other species.  There is at least that psychological suggestion to this author.

Yet for all we might have to say about protecting ourselves from this terrible plague we should understand that the human beings afflicted are always worthy of compassion and should not be treated as if their own lives and sufferings are not important. These are people who through no fault of their own contracted a horrific disease and we should balance all protective strategies with our empathy for the terrible suffering of these human beings who are now afflicted. It is easy to simply say keep them out of our lives, but it is also cruel and perhaps the very first step towards absolute doom for our species as a whole. Each one of these victims is in a real sense sacrificing their lives for our benefit in some way for they are suffering the epiphany of this horror first and for our own view. It is through their suffering that we are made aware of this plague.

With that said we should proceed to ask some real questions about what all this means as of now.

Disease is contained as of now

There have been many Ebola breakouts in the past but most have usually been small. There are a number of Ebola strains and not all strains are equally deadly. Some strains of Ebola are far less deadly.  There have been a few other times where the death toll reached the hundreds and thousands. But this particular breakout is quite extensive and this is why many are concerned about it.

Although the Ebola virus has reached the United States before this most recent episode, this is the first time that transmissions have occurred in the United States itself, as when the nurse contracted Ebola from the patient while treating him. Thus there is some more alarm than before concerning the spread of Ebola in the United States than ever before.

However, the truth is that for now the disease is still well contained and there is not yet the need for the public to become too alarmed. Yes the disease has reached New York City, but the person infected was a doctor who treated patients of Ebola in Liberia, working for the “Doctors Without Borders” program that allows American doctors to visit other nations whose health resources are less developed than those in the US.

This new infection in New York is riskier than the others in Dallas to be sure, only because so many more people live in the North East and there is a greater population density, but it is not really very much more significant in actuality. The reality is that no matter what has happened, the odds are that the disease will be contained after any contacts are fully traced. No matter how many contacts this new case may have had, eventually they will be tracked down and isolated thus keeping the disease in check.

So for now, we really don’t have quite as much to worry about as would immediately appear. For as long as we can track down any new infections, and for as long as we can retrace any new infections we are going to able to control the disease spread and prevent it from become a real epidemic, local or national.

For as long as we can say that we know where any new infections came from, we can always back track and retrace the infected contacts and thus begin a controlled isolation. As long as this number does not become too large and goes beyond our actual abilities to track down and quarantine we will be ok with infections being kept to a minimum, and medical attention being kept to a maximum.

This too is something to note. If we can apply all our resources to any new cases, chances are the outcome will be positive. As long as we are not overwhelmed we will not be in any real danger.

Rogue Carrier

However, should we discover a new case that we did not expect to find and that we cannot trace back to contact, then the virus has probably breached our defenses. If a case pops up tomorrow whose origin we cannot identify, we will be forced to conclude that there was a rogue carrier somewhere that we completely missed who may have allowed the disease to spread unchecked. In a city like NYC or any other major city where people are packed by the hundreds into trains and busses,  the danger is immense.

If we should fail to fully trace any rogue carrier down, then and only then should we consider the possibility of imminent plague conditions.

If such a plague occurs, it will be very difficult to contain in a very large city and nation, and treatment will slowly deteriorate making it ever harder to survive the disease; fatality rates will rise dramatically as the affected  city  and nation become socially unstable.

But we are not anywhere near such a condition right now. In reality no one should panic since there is little cause to panic as of now. All these new cases are easily traceable and for the most part we are containing them. Again, if we find that we failed to contain these cases and mysterious new outbreaks occur, then and only then should the full alarm go off. Until then no one should panic.

But we must remain open to any new reports for our own good. Each and every suspected case should be fully reported by the media to make certain we are fully aware of where the disease is heading. In this way we can efficiently decide what we must do to keep the disease in full view and are able to apply all possible remedies immediately. The absolute greatest danger, as we have just stated, is if this disease falls out of view and really surprises us; if that were to  happen a few times, only then is  a real epidemic is on the way. As long as we keep an eye on it, and know exactly where it is at all times, it should not pose any great threat to the United States, at least.

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