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jerryking : west_africa   5

Ebola: Can we learn from SARS? - The Globe and Mail
RICHARD SCHABAS AND NEIL RAU
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Aug. 27 2014

here are four key things to know about Ebola:

1. It’s fundamentally spread from animal to human, not human to human.
This is an animal outbreak, with humans as collateral damage. The driving force is new infections acquired from animals. Human-to-human outbreaks are short-lived. This is not a single human outbreak starting from a “case zero.”

The specific animal reservoir for Ebola is unknown but is probably a jungle animal used for food, known as “bush meat.” The large number of cases in West Africa must be the result of more human contact with infected animals, either because there are more infected animals or because they are consumed or hunted more aggressively in West Africa than elsewhere. While identifying a specific animal host would certainly aid in prevention efforts, bush meat remains an important source of dietary protein and won’t be abandoned overnight as a food source. Ebola is a disease of poverty – a potentially deadly meal is better than no meal at all.

2. Unlike SARS, this outbreak won’t end quickly.

This is bad news for West Africa, which should expect a steady stream of new human infections.

3. Quarantine was abandoned a century ago.

There is an essential difference between quarantine and case isolation. Quarantine targets well people potentially incubating an infection; it’s impractical, ineffective and economically disruptive. Case isolation, on the other hand, targets individuals showing symptoms of disease and is the cornerstone of effective infection control.
4. Ebola may cause a scare, but it can’t cause an outbreak in Canada.
Ebola  SARS  flu_outbreaks  lessons_learned  disease  viruses  zoonosis  short-lived  collateral_damage  bad_news  Africa  West_Africa  infections 
september 2014 by jerryking
What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola - NYTimes.com
By MICHAEL T. OSTERHOLMSEPT. 11, 2014

THE Ebola epidemic in West Africa has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done.

There have been more than 4,300 cases and 2,300 deaths over the past six months. Last week, the World Health Organization warned that, by early October, there may be thousands of new cases per week in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. What is not getting said publicly, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time.

There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.

The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person yet to become ill travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.
Ebola  epidemics  viruses  flu_outbreaks  contagions  West_Africa  developed_countries  uncharted_problems  megacities  developing_countries 
september 2014 by jerryking

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