By ZAC PALMER, Staff Writer
The Ebola virus, historically known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often fatal, virus for humans. Transmitted from animals to humans, it has cropped up several times throughout history. Previously it has caused problems in African nations, and it has struck again. With a 50 percent fatality rate, this virus is extremely deadly and is taking a serious toll on West African communities.
Throughout the virus’ 38 year history, it has never stuck around as long as it has this time. Ebola is a full-fledged epidemic, and it might be here to stay. The outbreak in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone is one to take serious notice of.
Daniel Lucey, a professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University, is of the opinion that Ebola is not going to die out, rather it will become stronger as the days progress.
The total number of dead so far has reached 2,917, and it continues to climb.
As of right now the World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that by November we could hit 20,000 people infected. An even more somber prediction has the total number at 1.4 million by January of 2015. This disease is spreading like wildfire, and right now the containment effort is not sufficient.
In one of the hardest hit countries, Liberia, treatment centers have a total of 315 beds for those infected. To have enough for everybody infected they would need an additional 1,990 beds. Sierra Leone only has a quarter of the beds that they need to treat those infected as well. The infrastructure to treat this deadly disease is not anywhere close to where it needs to be.
One reason why this has become and continues to be an epidemic, is because of the signs of infection that people show. It is nearly impossible to discern whether a patient who comes into a hospital has the Ebola virus, or one of the many other diseases that are prevalent in Africa.
All the doctors have to wear protective equipment to treat any patient because there’s always the chance that their patient could have Ebola. This in turn causes many public hospitals to shut down because they can’t effectively treat patients with Ebola. There isn’t a place to put Ebola patients right now and that’s why we currently have an epidemic on our hands.
On Sept. 25 President Obama spoke to the U.N. and criticized the international response to the fast-spreading disease. Obama called the virus a threat to global security and made a call for action to countries around the globe. The U.S. is sending about 3,000 military personnel to West Africa to help the effort.
Ebola virus has managed to catch the world off guard this time, and it’s not going to go away so easily like it has in the past. It depends on how the world responds to this growing threat. The U.S. has taken a step in increasing aid to infected areas, now it’s up to the rest of the world to take action in this fight.