Various people in the government, health agencies have said things like “difficult to transmit,” or “We will stop it in its tracks,” or some such inane platitude. And if you really take a look at what’s going on, you have to think, “Isn’t it already too late?”
I remember watching a newscast about Ebola from West Africa. Sanjay Gupta went into one of the Ebola facilities in Africa, all dolled up in his bio suit, effectively saying it is difficult to transmit Ebola. At one point the camera panned to show a nearby airport and the newscaster said that Ebola could potentially travel to faraway places in a jiffy. That was the truth.
Now Ebola has the potential to be a global disease. Countries in their arrogance have been flying patients out of Africa, bringing them home for treatment. How much do scientists, doctors know about this disease, which till now has never ventured out of remote African locales?
Funding and resources spent on research wouldn’t have been a whole lot as Ebola only affected a microcosm of Earth’s population. So what gives these people the confidence, or perhaps overconfidence to think they can effectively tackle this disease? Their recent actions haven’t inspired much confidence.
The case of a Spanish nurse, who caught Ebola while treating two Spanish citizens brought back to Spain for treatment. News articles have claimed that the team attending to the stricken didn’t have the proper equipment, at times bare skin being exposed at time of treating the patient. Is this supposed to inspire confidence?
Within days we hear of a passenger who travels from Liberia to Dallas, Texas and goes to a hospital, tells them he is from Liberia and is unwell with symptoms of Ebola and he is sent back into the population! Is this USA being prepared to stop this disease in it’s tracks?
He returns a couple of days later, only to succumb to the disease and in turn infecting two nurses who were caring for him. This is even more amazing. Now reports say that during treatment the nurses had their necks exposed. So much for “We are prepared” and “We have protocols in place.”
Let’s not forget, the second nurse actually flew to Cleveland, Ohio while still under a supposed watch. Now CDC says she shouldn’t have gotten on a commercial airliner as per protocol. Who is charged with enforcing this protocol? Isn’t that part of being prepared?
The question is, what next? What can be done to safeguard citizens across the world from Ebola. The cat is out of the bag. The stark reality is that infections are going to show up around the world. They will spread fast in third world countries and they will spread slowly in the west, but they will spread. Had the disease been quarantined to the host countries, the situation would have been different, but that boat has sailed.
One of the key things to talk about is, Ebola is NOT difficult to contract. If nurses in full protective garb aren’t safe, what chance does an average person have? They say Ebola transmits through sweat, they say it can survive for hours on door knobs. So if an Ebola carrier is running just a slight temperature, which is a symptom and which means he is contagious and he happens to wipe sweat off his upper lip and the grab a door knob, the next person could pick it up. So why is it difficult to contract?
There are people who blast saliva out of their mouth when they have normal conversation. If they have symptoms and are contagious, they could infect tens if not hundreds of people just by opening their mouths.
So what can be done?
- Setup a national helpline manned by the best you have to offer in investigative medicine and intelligence.
- Individuals calling in should be screened and if they fit the profile of an Ebola infectee, they should be asked to remain where they are.
- Dispatch a unit from the nearest facility capable of dealing with the disease to pickup the individual.
- Cleanup the place and quarantine any relatives and immediate family for the next 21 days.
- Educate Citizens– I can’t stress this enough. STOP saying Ebola is difficult to transmit. You don’t know enough. Transmissions have occurred under your nose and you are still struggling for answers.
- Educate Hospital staff – Big or small, educate every hospital and medical clinic on how to deal with a patient who seems live. Immediate isolation, a call to the national help line and a unit from the closest Ebolized medical facility to retrieve the patient with a cleanup and quarantine crew to follow.
- Direct workplaces to have an infectious disease policy in place. Dcree that any sick workers must stay at home till their symptoms have worn off. And report to work when they are completely symptom free.
- Same goes for school going kids. We all know that traditionally infections spread fastest in a school setting.
- Start an advertising blitzkrieg, telling citizens that they are now faced with a difficult foe. This is not a war far away in the Middle East, but a war at their doorstep, one which each citizen has to fight by being aware and alert.
- Travellers from affected areas
- You are at risk – Tell these people that “You are at risk” and then tell them that you are risking the lives of your family and those you love by undertaking this travel.
- If they still decide to travel, then suggest that they should stay under voluntary quarantine inside their homes for 21 days. Else they risk their family and loved ones.
- Paid leave from work – Everybody needs to play their part, even corporations. Does a CEO really want an Ebola stricken worker reporting to work and standing next to him by the water cooler?
- Risk of transmission – Do not play down the risk of transmission, instead play it up so people will think twice before risking the lives of people they love.
- Relatives of those traveling from affected areas
- You are at risk. Your loved one is a possible carrier of Ebola. He can potentially infect you and you have a 70% chance of dying from it.
- Relatives should help their loved ones through their 21 day quarantine.
- They should call local authorities on the first sign of symptoms and then quarantine themselves
At various times in the human civilization, a disease has reared its ugly head and wiped out millions. We, with all our technology and modern medical advances have a unique opportunity to prove to our future generations that we are capable of facing such a disease and stopping it in its tracks, but we can’t do that through denial and mollycoddling the population.