We understand how the news that two Americans with Ebola being transported to Atlanta for treatment can be met with fear, but the only way to overcome a threat like this is with courage and scientific work.
Ebola, like AIDS in the 1980s and a variety of other diseases and pandemics is both frightening and deadly. Previous outbreaks of the disease had a 90 percent death rate. This time has been slightly better, so far, with several media outlets reporting that 60 percent of the people who contract the disease die from it.
However, the terrifying part of it isn’t the death rate; it is how little we know about the disease. Scientists believe it was transferred to humans by animals and that humans contract it from one another through contact with a sick person’s sweat, blood and other fluids. It doesn’t appear to be airborne and we do not yet have a cure or a vaccine.
The disease, so far, has been limited to Africa and several hundred people have died in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since February. Recently, two American missionaries contracted the disease while treating patients. Dr. Kent Brantly has already returned and is being treated by infectious disease specialists in Atlanta. Nancy Writebol is expected to return today.
Both of them were there because of their Christian faith and a belief that they were called to serve others in God’s name.
Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC in Atlanta said in an interview with Face the Nation on Sunday that Brantly seems to be improving and that officials hoped that would continue.
It is believed that both patients will have a better chance of surviving if they are treated in a modern facility. Over the weekend Frieden and other medical officials did their best to reassure a nervous public that every care was being taken to prevent Ebola from spreading inside the United States. He added that even if an outbreak were to occur the CDC knows how to stop it.
We also expect that the specialists who are treating Brantly and Writebol are also working on a cure.
Meanwhile, the CDC is taking what reasonable measures it can to prevent the disease from spreading. The agency is sending 50 workers to Africa to help set up screenings to prevent sick people from flying out of the country. Those workers will also assist officials on the ground with education efforts designed to prevent the spread of Ebola.
Those are the kind of levelheaded initiatives that don’t get enough discussion. Unfortunately, discussions about Ebola and other topics like terrorism or crime seem to center on the worst-case scenarios instead of the facts on the ground.
Reprinted from the Panama City News Herald