FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ebola Can Be Stopped

by

As the Ebola virus continues to spread at an alarming rate, Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, issued a stern warning. Calling Ebola a “clear and present danger,” President Sirleaf said, “The scope and scale of the epidemic, the virulence and deadliness of the virus now exceed the capacity and statutory responsibility of any one government agency or ministry.” Those few words underscore the need to rapidly contain the spread of the epidemic. This epidemic also draws attention to the fragility of most African countries’ public health systems, and the need to improve them.

“What we have done is to make sure we’re surging not just U.S. resources, but we have reached out to European partners and partners from other countries working with the World Health Organization (WHO),” said President Obama. He also promised to help bolster the systems that the countries already have in place.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) also called Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the disease caused by the Ebola virus. Although no spread of the virus through the air has been documented so far, the virus may be acquired through contact with blood or bodily fluids from infected animals or people. That is why samples of bodily fluids and tissues from those infected should be handled with extreme care and protective clothing should be used.

The present one is the largest outbreak so far, affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. Early symptoms of the infection are similar to those of malaria, dengue fever or other tropical diseases. The infection then progresses to the bleeding phase. Because heavy bleeding is confined to the gastrointestinal tract the patients may vomit blood, have blood in the stool and also cough blood. This blood is highly infectious, so those most at risk are health care workers and those in close contact with the patients.

Since the disease is only spread by direct contact with the secretions of those infected, the potential for the widespread EVD infections is considered relatively low. However, because no vaccine is effective and the disease has a mortality rate of between 50 and 90 percent prevention efforts are most important, as is prompt treatment of those infected. Because the disease occurs typically in outbreaks in tropical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, some cultural practices that favor the spread of the infection should be addressed.

The WHO considers “burial of victims in accordance with cultural practices” one of the main factors in the spread of the disease. In that regard, traditional burial in many West African countries includes washing the dead bodies by hand and burying them in the floor of the house. However, persistent denial of the danger and resistance to change in the community are important barriers to overcome.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of those infected are essential. Clinical, laboratory and support staff and supplies are much needed in the most affected African countries. Health workers are also needed to care for the patients, limit the spread of the infection, trace contacts and engage and educate the community.

No Ebola virus-specific treatment exists. However, early supportive treatment consisting of balancing fluids, maintaining oxygen levels, manage pain and controlling bacterial and fungal secondary infections increases the chances of survival. At present, several experimental treatments are being studied.

To limit the spread of the infection nonessential travel to areas or countries most affected by the infection should be curtailed, and individuals returning from those countries should be closely monitored. The countries where the infection is more widespread are among the poorest countries in the world, and by themselves cannot cope with this situation. That is why outside help from industrialized countries is most important to help control this deadly infection.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
Leslie Scott
Trump in the Middle East: New Ideas, Old Politics
George Wuerthner
Environmental Groups as Climate Deniers
Pauline Murphy
The Irish Dead: Fighting Fascism in Spain, 1937
Brian Trautman
Veterans on the March
Eric Sommer
Trumps Attack on Social Spending Escalates Long-term Massive Robbery of American Work
Binoy Kampmark
Twenty-Seven Hours: Donald Trump in Israel
Christian Hillegas
Trump’s Islamophobia: the Persistence of Orientalism in Western Rhetoric and Media
Michael J. Sainato
Russiagate: Clintonites Spread the Weiner Conspiracy
Walter Clemens
What the President Could Learn from Our Shih-Tzu Eddie
May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail