Ebola—The Greatest Threat Is Fear and Panic

Ebola virus - Jul 2014
color slide by CDC microbiologist Cynthia Goldsmith

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans…case fatality rate of up to 90%…..Ebola first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.” World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

As the world becomes more aware of this serious outbreak in West Africa which has claimed over 700 lives, media attention is being given daily to this outbreak and its possible consequences. Ebola is a fear trigger for many people.

This is why concern and fear have arisen over the transport of infected medical personnel from West Africa to Emory Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Some public figures have expressed their opinion vehemently about this transport.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

CDC has very well-established protocols in place to ensure the safe transport and care of patients with infectious diseases back to the United States,” the agency says. “These procedures cover the entire process — from patients leaving their bedside in a foreign country to their transport to an airport and boarding a non-commercial airplane equipped with a special transport isolation unit, to their arrival at a medical facility in the United States that is appropriately equipped and staffed to handle such cases.” NBC NEWS

But a spokeswoman for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Washington Post: “The safety and security of US citizens is our highest priority. These are US citizens who are returning to the United States for medical care. They are being returned under strict medical protocols for infectious diseases.”

“The modified Gulfstream jet used to transport one or both Americans will be fitted with an Aeromedical Biological Containment System.” THE TELEGRAPH

Unfortunately, there is a growing belief that the news media cannot be trusted to give accurate information to the public. Parallel to this is a distrust of government and its agencies.

The greatest threat or danger to people is fear and panic. Misinformation on Ebola creates a situation which is very difficult to rectify when the true facts are presented. Fear can cause people to react badly. Panic becomes an obstacle for civil authorities to perform their duties for public safety.

Let’s look at some facts from the WHO:

TRANSMISSION:

“Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

“Ebola then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.”

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

“EVD is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

“People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory.
“The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days.”

SUMMARY:
Ebola is a virulent virus. Best measures to take:

Keep informed of what is happening in West Africa and any other outbreak areas. Read what is available from medical authorities. Follow health guidelines and precautions. Don’t allow fear to replace rational thinking.

Cooperate with civil authorities if an outbreak happens in your community. Public safety is the primary goal. Don’t allow your belief system or preconceived notions to become paramount over public safety concerns and rules.

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, in her address to the Presidents of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, said:

Ebola outbreaks can be contained. Chains of transmission can be broken. Together, we must do so.”

This would apply to any situation which people on this planet traversing the cosmos could face. Working together and following guidelines will ensure a positive outcome. Fear and panic will result in tragic consequences.

G. D. Williams © 2014

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References:

The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail
The Daily Mail

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2709929/Body-child-stowaway-US-cargo-plane.html

The Wall Street Journal

Two Americans infected with Ebola in Liberia will become the first known victims of the deadly disease to be treated in the U.S. when they arrive at a hospital here in the coming days.

While the transfer of the infected humanitarian workers is intended to improve their survival chances and will follow strict safety protocols, the risks associated with importing cases of a deadly virus are raising concerns not only here in Atlanta but across the nation…

Emory University Hospital houses a specially built isolation unit equipped to treat patients exposed to deadly infectious diseases such as Ebola. Dr. Ribner said the 12-year-old unit, developed in collaboration with the CDC, which is right down the road, previously treated a patient with SARS, which swept through multiple countries in 2003. The unit is separate from other patient areas, and its staff is highly trained…

“The risk is low, but it’s not zero in terms of transmission,” said Richard Wenzel, emeritus professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and an infectious-disease specialist.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/atlanta-responds-to-hearing-ebola-patient-to-be-treated-in-local-hospital-1406910226

The Telegraph

Donald Trump said the American Ebola victims should not be brought to the US. On Twitter, the business mogul said: “Ebola patient will be brought to the US in a few days – now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent. KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!”

Trump added: “Stop the Ebola patients from entering the US. Treat them, at the highest level, over there. THE UNITED STATES HAS ENOUGH PROBLEMS!”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/10999981/Ebola-virus-outbreak-live.html

FRANCE 24: Five Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

carte-epidemie-ebola-afrique-EN-maj0108_0

http://www.france24.com/en/20140802-five-things-know-ebola-outbreak-west-africa-guinea-sierra-leone-liberia/?aef_campaign_date=2014-08-02&aef_campaign_ref=partage_aef&ns_campaign=reseaux_sociaux&ns_linkname=editorial&ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter

NBC NEWS: Dr. Nancy Snyderman Answers Questions About Ebola

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ebola-virus-outbreak/dr-nancy-snyderman-answers-questions-about-ebola-n171011

Huffington Post

“The doctor who led Sierra Leone’s fight against Ebola died of the disease on Tuesday, according to local authorities.

“The death of Sheik Umar Khan, who was hailed as a national hero by Sierra Leone’s health ministry, comes as more than 670 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have died of Ebola since it broke out in February.”

EbolaOutbreaks_0729

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/30/ebola-map_n_5632280.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization to Presidents of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

“First, this outbreak is moving faster than our efforts to control it. If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries. As I said before, this meeting must mark a turning point in the outbreak response.

“In addition, the outbreak is affecting a large number of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers, one of the most essential resources for containing an outbreak. To date, more than 60 health care workers have lost their lives in helping others. Some international staff are infected. These tragic infections and deaths significantly erode response capacity….

“Ebola outbreaks can be contained. Chains of transmission can be broken. Together, we must do so.”

http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2014/ebola/en/

The Independent: United Kingdom

The Government is to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the “threat” to the UK from the Ebola virus, the Foreign Secretary has said.

Philip Hammond said he would chair the meeting of the Cobra committee, which will begin coordinating Britain’s response to the spread of a disease that has killed more than 670 people in West Africa.

Dr Brian McCloskey, the director of global health at the agency, told The Independent that Ebola represents the most “acute health emergency” currently facing Britain.

All doctors in the UK have been told to look out for patients exhibiting the early symptoms of the Ebola disease, which include fever, headaches, joint and muscle pain and lack of appetite, particularly if they have a history of travel in West Africa.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/ebola-virus-is-a-threat-to-uk-says-philip-hammond-as-government-calls-emergency-cobra-meeting-in-response-to-deadly-disease-9636789.html

DW
http://www.dw.de/ebola-virus-a-serious-threat-to-urban-areas/a-17826190

http://www.dw.de/the-fight-against-ebola/av-17826883

Here’s a Map of Where the CDC Would Quarantine Possible Ebola Cases

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http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2014/08/04/ebola_outbreak_in_africa_raises_caution_in_u_s_as_cdc_quarantine_stations.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/cdc-quarantine-stations-ebola-2014-8

Nigeria declares state of emergency over Ebola August 8, 2014

He also asked schools to consider extending the current school holiday until there is a national reassessment of the level of threat Ebola poses in Nigeria and called on the population to avoid large gatherings in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Religious and political groups, spiritual healing centres, families, associations and other bodies should … discourage gatherings and activities that may unwittingly promote close contact with infected persons or place others at risk,” said the presidency.

http://www.france24.com/en/20140808-nigeria-declares-state-emergency-over-ebola/

Ebola Outbreak: 56 People Dead In Two Days August 13, 2014

There have been 56 more deaths in a 48-hour period in West Africa’s ebola outbreak, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,069.

In the two days to August 11, there were 128 new cases, meaning a total of 1,975, according to the World Health Organisation.

Many of the dead are health workers, who are often working with inadequate supplies and protection.

Among the victims is the first European – a Spanish priest who died on Tuesday in a Madrid hospital after being infected while treating ebola patients in Liberia.

http://news.sky.com/story/1318129/ebola-outbreak-56-people-dead-in-two-days

September 13, 2014

U.S. Scientists See Long Fight Against Ebola

“While previous outbreaks have been largely confined to rural areas, the current epidemic, the largest ever, has reached densely populated, impoverished cities — including Monrovia, the capital of Liberia — gravely complicating efforts to control the spread of the disease. Alessandro Vespignani, a professor of computational sciences at Northeastern University who has been involved in the computer modeling of Ebola’s spread, said that if the case count reaches hundreds of thousands, “there will be little we can do.”

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