Ebola epidemic prevention

Ebola, at the center of the news, is highly concerning. First emerging in 1976 in Nzara, Sudan, and Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo, it has now spread to the United States through the treating of several patients on American soil.  However, in my opinion, the US has not handled it well.  While I applaud President Obama’s selecting of an Ebola “czar,” I feel as though he should have chosen someone more qualified from either a medical or leadership perspective (like a current or former army general) as opposed to a career political operative. Ron Klain’s new job is “regarded as a managerial challenge,” and he lacks thorough experience in healthcare. Ebola is an extremely serious disease that needs to be taken as seriously from a medical and health perspective as it is from a political perspective. Therefore, someone with a broad medical background would be best for the job.

This is the largest and most intricate Ebola outbreak since 1976 and has expanded from Guinea to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and Senegal, which is extremely worrying, as the spreading could continue.  In addition, the number of cases and deaths identified during this epidemic surpass all other outbreaks collectively. Two months ago, on Aug. 8, 2014, the World Health Organization director-general professed this epidemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Ebola is a severe, frequently lethal disease (death rate 50-70 percent), transferred from wild animals and contagious through “human-to-human transmission.”  Anyone entering the US from countries where Ebola is very prominent should be required to have a blood test to determine whether they carry the virus due to the incredibly high risk and danger of the disease.  This action would benefit everyone—it would help the travelers from Liberia who surely want to know if they are infected, it would help prevent the US from developing an epidemic, and it could even greatly aid West Africa. Africa would be helped because at the moment, the US is providing multiple times the aid to these areas than to the rest of the world combined.

However, if Ebola breaks out here, our resources will likely be focused here and not in Africa.  Therefore, it is in Africa’s interests that Ebola not spread to the United States, so that the US can continue to support Africa. While the US has many resources, if Ebola spreads, it will become harder and harder to control.  While some lawmakers “have called for a travel ban on individuals coming from West Africa,” the alternative of a test would be a more moderate step.

If works to hold the outbreak are not significantly amplified, the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict that the death toll could rapidly reach tens of thousands. The more time it takes for the US and other countries to react well, the more dangerous the situation becomes. We need to respond quickly, and well, or the consequences could be disastrous.

Testing people coming from the Ebola stricken-areas of Africa is common sense; let’s hope our government uses some.