Ebola, the biggest outbreak in history?

By Andrea Hurtado

We could be looking at 1.4 million cases in January 2015. Countries need to work together to fight against Ebola, to minimize the victims, and to do everything before it is too late.

In the next four months we could possibly be facing the biggest epidemic outbreak in history. Ebola cases are spreading in West Africa at an accelerated rate, which exceed our speed for finding a cure. Currently 6,000 cases of Ebola have been reported in three countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia); however, for January 2015 we could be looking at 1.4 million cases —an extreme situation— not only in West Africa, but outside as well.

For those who are still confused about this calamitous virus, Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever disease that starts off with symptoms similar to the flu, but then causes high fever and muscle pain. Humans can become infected by having contact with an infected animal or person. However, contagion only happens through direct contact—cut skin or mucous membranes—with infected things like blood, urine, saliva, feces, needles, syringes, and bushmeat.

The original host of this epidemic hasn’t yet been identified; however, fruit bats are common carriers. The reason why Ebola is so savage is because it kills all the white blood cells in our body, and practically takes over our immune system. Moreover, according to BBC news in 2012 Dr. Gary Kobinger conducted a study that shows that Ebola is not only transmitted through contact with infected fluids or objects, but it also through the air; particles in the air are absorbing the virus and are spreading it around. The experiment he ran shows how monkeys and pigs that were in separate cages and had no contact at all had still transmitted this disease. This BBC article points out that “researchers believe that limited airborne transmission might be contributing to the spread of the disease in some parts of Africa.” Nonetheless, this airborne transmission hasn’t yet been shown through humans. The spread of Ebola is a threat to humanity.

Even though we’ve known about Ebola for 40 years a cure hasn’t yet been developed. Today while medical centers in Africa are collapsing and this disease is multiplying to create a bigger army, US scientists are searching for a cure—they have limited time. Many infected patients have received an experimental treatment (ZMapp); many of whom have survived and were cured with the therapy while others haven’t. However, this is not an eternal solution since it is limited. Additionally, the World Health Organization has recently mentioned that Ebola could be treated with plasma therapies. This treatment consists of “pumping the blood of infection survivors into patients who are now suffering the deadly effects of the virus.” The immune system of survivors of Ebola have developed antibodies that could help bring down this virus. According to WHO two doctors who have been infected were treated with plasma therapies and some medicine and are now healthy. Regardless these successful cases nothing is set in stone; this is a treatment that still needs deeper research.

It is mouth opening how the world has responded to this disease; instead of taking more precautions, educating people about the virus, and working fast to develop a cure, they are in the process of doing investigations and creating technological developments for political and governmental issues. We should be working towards exterminating the biggest hazard to our specie. In fact, it isn’t that Ebola is more powerful than us; instead, we humans, are giving it the foundation to take over. One of the main reasons why Ebola has become dominant is poverty. But it isn’t only the ignorance of the people that kills them, it is the unprepared hospitals that reuse needles and syringes that kill them, and us, the humans, who listen to the news and do nothing that kills them. We need to educate people about this egregious disease, so that they know how to take safety precautions because many African families are used to treating the disease themselves, and when their loved ones die they clean the bodies. In that moment that they have direct contact with infected victims Ebola passes to another body. We need to build more hospitals and improve the medical centers that we have, so that we fight against Ebola and not help it get through. Finally, we need to raise awareness around the world so that we all understand what we are facing; at the accelerated rates that this disease is spreading, it can jump across the borders in any minute. Countries work together to fight against Ebola, to minimize the victims, and to do anything before it is too late.

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