I’ve been following the course of the Ebola outbreak with increasing dread. The Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 but never spread outside remote African villages till the latest outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, where the disease is taking a devastating toll right now.
I found this recent interview with one of the scientists who first discovered Ebola back in the ’70s. It’s definitely worth a close read. Fascinating detail: they named the virus after a river near the remote village in Zaire where the first outbreak took place.
Clearly, despite reassuring statements by the CDC, we are not ready for Ebola here in the West, either. Just look at the shabby way the poor nurse’s aide, Teresa Ramos, has been treated in Spain…she had to practically beg for medical treatment and then found out she had Ebola though the media as she lay in her hospital bed. Not to mention her dog being euthanized, an action that seems gratuitously cruel. The case of the first US Ebola patient, Thomas Duncan, was also terribly mishandled. I’m not sure anything could have saved him, but he certainly didn’t get the superb treatment that Dr. Kent Brantly got.
More Ebola cases will crop up in the West, and more mistakes will continue to be made. That’s certain. But the best hope is to stem the outbreak in the African countries involved, which is why I will be making a donation of 3 percent of my editorial income to Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) at the end of the month. It’s not much, but at least it’s something.
Update: Teresa Ramos’s condition is possibly improving, according to recent reports—but as of 10/12 one of the nurses treating Thomas Duncan in Dallas has been diagnosed with Ebola.