Remember the 1995 American Disaster film Outbreak which starred Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman? The film showed in all its macabre details how an Ebola like virus accidently enters the US and infects a community. The film also shows the extent which authorities go to quarantine a group of hapless patients of the disease.
The disease does not have any vaccine and has been classified as a biosafety level 4 agent, as well as a ‘Category A’ bioterrorism agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ebola was once considered a scourge which was located in the bushes of Central Africa. The virus would often get transferred from its animal hosts to the humans.
However most of the epidemics in the past often died out and most epidemics were localized. However with the advent of better travel resources the danger of the disease spreading across the borders of the West African nations like Sierra Leone and Liberia has become very real.
Ebola was once thought to be an intermittent scourge limited to the bush of Central Africa. The virus would jump from its animal hosts to a nearby community eating those animals, but these outbreaks flared up and quickly “burned out,” killing about 1,600 people over the nearly four decades since the first case was identified in a Sudanese factory worker in 1976.
Stephen Morrison, the director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Before this outbreak, Ebola was not known to be present in Sierra Leone, in Liberia, in Conakry. But it is now present there. If it recedes, it does not mean it is not present. You will see more outbreaks. It will be recurrent.”
The virus is spreading in a very quick manner and is affecting the populations across a wider area. Today the borders have become increasingly porous with an increasing number of transcontinental flights which can spread the disease across vast distance.
Two Americans have been transported to America for the treatment of the disease. However health experts say that the disease cannot spread in US since the dynamics are not akin to that in the West African nations where the disease is creating havoc.
Ebola evokes much public fear since till date there is no cure for the disease. However a vaccine could be ready in just two years but it would require a lot of funds and also a political will.