Ebola: Are we prepared?

If you were to ask someone what they thought of the recent Ebola outbreak, they would have probably said it’s a bad virus affecting Western Africa. They maybe also felt that North Americans didn't have much to worry about.

But that was until September 30, 2014. That is the day a man in Dallas, Texas tested positive for Ebola. He flew into Dallas on a commercial flight from Liberia on September 20, symptom-free. It was only five days later that he began to feel sick. On September 28 he was admitted to a hospital in Dallas and was diagnosed with Ebola two days later.

There could be more infected cases in North America. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States is trying to find out all the people the first North American Ebola patient was in contact with ever since he returned. So far, the CDC has identified about 20 people, including several children.

This whole process has to be repeated for each person with the disease. The CDC will have to trace their movements and monitor everyone the Ebola patient has had contact with for three weeks.

On a positive note, the US health officials believe both Nigeria and Senegal may have successfully contained the virus. Both these countries have more money and resources to control the spread of the disease. Liberia and Sierra Leone, on the other hand, are still recovering from civil war that left their countries’ infrastructure in tatters.

A few things can be done to halt the spread of the virus. All our hospitals across North America need to be on full alert. This means all medical staff need to be fully trained on identifying, treating, and responding to any patient who may have this deadly virus.

But preparing within our own borders isn’t enough. It’s only a matter of time before more Ebola cases end up in North America, Europe, or Asia. We need to invest considerable amounts of money, medical equipment, and expertise on the ground in West Africa to make sure we get this disease under control.

Liberia and Sierre Leone simply can’t do it on their own. Some of their attempts to control the disease mirror some science fiction horror movies. We need to help them contain and destroy the deadliest Ebola outbreak in our history.


Questions? Need help?