Monday, March 31, 2014
Don't ignore the Ebola outbreak in Africa
I'm sure that by now, most readers are aware of the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. It appears to be spreading.
There is no treatment for this disease. As far as I'm aware, once it becomes established in victims there's a 90% fatality rate. Initial trials with vaccines in primates have proved successful, but research hasn't yet progressed to inoculating humans; and it may take weeks or months for the vaccination to provide full immunization. This means that travelers can easily carry Ebola with them on flights to other parts of the world. It's highly infectious and very aggressive, and poses an enormous risk to areas that aren't aware of the dangers it poses. One case may already have occurred in Canada; but after the initial publicity, nothing more has been heard. I suspect that country's authorities are trying not to spread alarm. I'm sure they're also monitoring their airports very closely for travelers who've been in the affected areas. If I had the opportunity to leave there, I'd take it; but I couldn't necessarily guarantee that I wasn't already incubating the virus. The authorities will want to be sure of that.
I can only suggest that if you live close to airports where flights from West Africa land, or in areas with a large population of West African origin, you take additional precautions, including improved hygiene and sanitation. Ebola's nothing to fool with. It'll kill you in a skinny minute if it takes hold.