Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ebola -- a public heath crisis

Several years ago, at the bookshop in Hong Kong I bought the Hot Zone.  To say that the book freaked me out would be an understatement.  It is a compelling look at the risk of contagion (and the movie with the similar name was scary enough) by one of the world's deadliest diseases.  Thankfully, Ebola is not airborne (yet anyway) apparently ebola is a very sloppy virus that has a tendency to mutate -- already there are two or three variants.

The CDC, Medecins sans frontier, and others have raised the alarm.  So far America (today) is the only country that has raised a hand -- with 3,000 personel.  Not Russia, not China and nor Europe.  How is it that America is always seen as the policemen or the doctor of the world.

If Europe and China were to look seriously at the security of the middle east (the oil zone) it may be of comfort that is America that is providing all the security in the straight of Hormuz, and yet 99% of the oil produced in the region goes to China or Europe -- who assume no cost for their energy security!

Back to Ebola, there is a sense that this is a disease of Africa, and that it will be contained.  Maybe, but Lagos is a big, big town and to think that international air travel -- or illegal immigration out of North Africa is not a problem would be to seriously misunderstand the scope of the problem that the world is facing.  The Ebola crisis is still (only just manageable), but Ebola is considered an R1 or R2 communicable disease -- that means that every sick person will infect 1 or 2 individuals -- this is very high (in the movie Contagion they were talking of an R0 -- maybe an R1).  The case of the American missionary who fled a hospital to return home (eventually died in Lagos) infected between 12 and 20 people.

We are finally meeting our deadliest foe -- and he a virus!


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