The Ebola Outbreak
As of this week, at least 4,033 people have died of Ebola in seven countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) A few weeks ago, Esquire spoke to the experts to learn more about history’s largest Ebola outbreak.
Why is this outbreak different?
“It isn’t burning itself out like previous outbreaks,” says Daniel Epstein, spokesperson for the WHO. “It’s broken into large population centres, which coupled with the relatively high mobility of the carriers is giving the virus a much longer shelf life.”
What’s required for survival?
Natural immunity and proper health care. Many Ebola patients actually die from low blood pressure and shock rather than blood loss. “If the disease is caught early, intravenous fluids and electrolytes can prevent dehydration, maintaining blood pressure, while transfusions can replace any blood lost due to haemorrhaging,” says a spokesperson for the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Why isn’t this being done in Africa?
Many people think it’s a curse not an illness, and because sufferers risk being shunned they’re not coming forward. “They think the disease is spiritual, so they can’t understand what the doctors are trying to do – they think they’re there to perform experiments, or harvest organs,” says Fabio Friscia of UNICEF.
Can it be cured?
A drug called ZMapp was given to two US aid workers who contracted the disease in Sierra Leone. It’s unclear whether the drug helped them, and it could take three months to synthesise a hundred doses. The WHO warns people not to expect a cure before 2015, with the CDC claiming “We do not know how to treat Ebola or vaccinate against it – and it will be a long time before we do.”
The disease has reportedly already spread beyond West Africa into Europe, what is likely to happen next?
Tom Frieden, the Director of the CDC, told a US House Committee that it’s inevitable the disease will spread to the US, citing increased air travel. He argued that advanced training and equipment would help isolate the disease early on, preventing its spread.