By Aakriti Gupta
Elm Staff Writer
Ebola seems to have caught everyone’s attention all around the world, but do we really know everything about it? Ebola is an often fatal and infectious disease with fever and severe internal or external bleeding as its primary symptoms. The origin of this virus in recent times is West Africa. Starting from Guinea and moving on to Liberia and Sierra Leone, it has dispersed as far as the United States.
The outbreak in Guinea in West Africa started in December 2013 and was acknowledged by the Guinean Ministry of Health and World Health Organization officially in March. In Guinea a total of 86 suspected cases, including 59 deaths, had been reported as of March 2014. The infectious disease then spread over to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The treatment in Guinea began in September by a team of health and government officials and journalists with the task of carrying out the distribution of information on Ebola and disinfection work. However, the residents did not view this in a positive light as they believed that this team of individuals was purposely spreading the disease while many other residents believed that this disease was a myth and did not really exist. Eventually riots broke out ultimately causing the death of the health workers and government officials whose bodies were found in the town of Womey, the Nzérékoré Region of Guinea.
In contrast to Guinea, Liberians responded positively to the attempts by the health ministry to treat Ebola. In July 2014, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president, announcing the closing of Liberian borders, forbidding Liberians from leaving the country, and foreigners from entering in order to minimize the transmission of the Ebola virus. Schools and universities all over Liberia were shut down, and a national state of emergency was declared, noting the possibility of “suspension of certain rights and privileges.”
The last country in the thread in Western Africa was Sierra Leone with its first death due to the Ebola virus occurring in May. It was declared as an official matter in August when the government enforced a law of two years imprisonment for anyone hiding an infected individual. Sierra Leone also shut down its borders for trade with Guinea and Liberia. Schools and universities were also shut down in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus. September brought a three-day lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the disease from spreading further.
In addition, 28,500 trained community workers and volunteers provided doorstep services to give information regarding symptoms and prevention. Community Ebola surveillance teams were set up and Sierra Leone achieved the highest success amongst West African countries, spreading awareness to 85 percent of the population.
Three other countries known to be affected are Nigeria, Spain, and the United States. The common aspect between these three countries is that each one had individuals from Liberia that brought in the virus. Nigeria saw 12 confirmed cases, resulting in four deaths. Five others were declared disease-free sometime in August 2014. Spain, in contrast, had a much larger pool of individuals affected by the Ebola virus. As of October, 50 individuals were diagnosed with the disease and seven are being kept in isolation in Hospital Carlos III in Madrid.
The presence of the Ebola virus in the United States was declared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient was a man from Liberia travelling to Texas diagnosed with symptoms and hospitalized in Dallas on Sept. 20. He died in the first week of October.
The US government has placed no restriction on trade and travel to and from West Africa, and the White House ruled out a travel ban completely. The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where the first Ebola patient was admitted, had loopholes in their systems and their response to the situation was flawed with mistakes and delays. The nurses working there were reported to have received insufficient training and personal protective equipment to treat the Ebola patient. As a result of this reckless behavior, two nurses were diagnosed during the second week of October.
The Ebola Virus is a lethal disease. There are several diseases like Ebola which have no cure. It is the disease of the moment about which everybody is talking. Though strict measures must be taken by every country in order to restrict its diffusion, social media and world citizens must stop blowing it out of proportion. If this disease is given so much importance, so should the other fatal diseases. There are various other diseases which are much more life threatening than Ebola of which numerous people aren’t aware. Now that countries everywhere have been made aware of the symptoms and preventions of Ebola the concentration should shift from Ebola to other diseases to increase the chance of making people more informed.