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Ebola Epidemic 2014

Peter Jeon

In 2014, a virus that many people were unaware of has attacked on
various countries in West Africa, affecting and killing thousands of people. This
Ebola virus has risen up as a new issue worldwide. On July 13th, one individual in
a small town in Guinea reported to have infected with Ebola virus (WHO). This
was the beginning of the horrible epidemic that terrorized the world. From then,
the number of people infected with Ebola Virus Disease has increased very
rapidly. All countries have panic that the virus could also infiltrate their own
countries. However, the recent occurrence of Ebola Virus was not the first
epidemic of this specific virus. It first appeared in 1976 in Nazra, Sudan, and20
cases of the epidemic were reported since (WHO). However, the ones in the
past had been well contained by fast and effective reaction to the epidemic.
However, this one in 2014 failed to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading. Now,

the concern is that will the Ebola spread to even more countries, outside the
West Africa, and even infiltrate to the United States? It will still take a long time to
recover all damages in West Africa, but the United States will be safe from the
Ebola Virus.
The transmission of the Ebola Virus occurs through a contact with any
body fluids of patients, including their blood, urine, and organ fluids (Angulo). It is
dangerous because the major symptom when an individual catches the Ebola
Virus Disease is vomiting, diarrhea, and external or internal bleeding. Therefore,
people around EVD patients can be infected with the Ebola virus from these
secretions. When a patient dies, it is because of dehydration as the water is keep
being coming out from the body by secretions. The disease does not show from
the transmission of virus instantly. Rather, the first symptom develops after 2 to
21 days (WHO). Another important fact is that if the symptom were still hidden at
the beginning of the infection, the virus would not be transmitted to another

However, these features of the Ebola virus tell us that it is very unlikely
that the virus will affect the United States. It is possible that a patient can come
into the American soil unnoticed, because the symptom arises after 2 to 21 days.
However, the transmission through body secretion from a person to person is
relatively unlikely, compared to easy transmission by air or touching skin. An
individual can catch the virus only by the close contact with the body fluids. First,
a virus carrier can only come to the United States from West Africa. Therefore, if
any visitors from West Africa show any symptoms of Ebola, hospitals and CDC
will take care of these people by isolating them and giving them cure.
However, West Africa had failed to contain the epidemic, and let it become
the largest Ebola epidemic among the other 20 cases in the past. A reason is the
lack of education and communications about the virus to the locals in the West
Africa. After the Ebola is recognized as a major threat to the world, several health
organizations and volunteer groups fled to the heavily affected area to help
patients. However, in many cases, the locals did not realize the gravity of the

problem and refused to get help from the organizations when they tried to
separate the patients away from their family. In an extreme case, the locals killed
two volunteers from Doctors-without-borders when they tried to take away their
family members in order to isolate the virus (Angulo). The locals did not
understand the need of isolating the patients, and this led to even more spread of
Ebola virus. They did not know how the disease is spread, or how to bury dead
bodies properly to contain the virus (WHO).
So, will the United States be completely free of the Ebola? In fact, there
already have been cases with Ebola in US soil. Starting from the first patient,
Thomas Eric Duncan, four people have been infected with the virus. Two of them
were health care workers who treated the Duncan. Amber Vinson was one of the
health care workers infected with Ebola. Her case could have turned into very
dangerous situation. She was not aware that she was transmitted with the virus.
Remember that the first symptom does not appear until 2 to 21 days have
passed. On October 10, she travelled to Cleveland via plane. Then, she started

to have a fever after few days staying in Cleveland. Then, she went back to
Dallas via plane on October 13. This could possibly lead to transmission to even
more people in the same plane (CDC). However, the response of CDC was very
fast. They investigated passengers on the plane and all people Vinson has
interacted. They have kept the number of possible contacts, and also almost
daily reported numbers through the CDC website. This event showed how fast
and effective the United States cane react to the possible epidemic and tells that
the United States takes this problem very seriously (Soergel). President Obama
clearly talked about the United States’ further action toward the Ebola Epidemic,
“Americans shouldn’t be concerned about the prospects of contagion here in the
United States short term, because it’s not an airborne disease,” Obama said on
NBC’s Meet The Press. “If we don’t make that effort now, there’s the prospect
that the virus mutates … and then it could be a serious danger to the United
States” (Soergel). After virus infected three US doctors, US government started
to focus on helping West Africa by sending US army to the heavily affected area.

Another problem of the Ebola Virus is that there is no authorized medicine
or vaccines. This is also another reason why the virus failed to be contained in
West Africa. Currently, the treatment for Ebola Virus Disease is only supportive,
which means it is not an effective treatment to cure a person (Angulo).
Symptoms of EVD are vomiting, diarrhea, internal or external bleeding, which are
all means of losing water from body. Patients often die from dehydration, and this
treatment tries to prevent dehydration from occurring (Angulo). This type of
treatment, however, cannot stop the spreading of the virus.
Currently, there are many efforts to develop treatments for the Ebola Virus.
First, a new medicine called ZMapp is in the process of development (Fox). This
medicine is predicted to be very hopeful in curing the patients. ZMapp was not
tested on a human subject yet. However, Mapp Pharmaceutical had a test of this
medicine on 22 Chimpanzees that have been infected with an Ebola virus. When
these chimpanzees were treated with the ZMapp, all of the subjects were treated
(Fox). If this medicine gets a same successful result from the tests on humans

and gets approval from Food and Drug Administration, it will ensure that even if a
case appears on the U.S. territory, hospitals can treat them with this medicine
and eliminate any chance of the spreading outside. Also, if the medicine is
supplied to the countries in West Africa and treat the patients in those areas, the
number of virus carriers will be significantly decreased. Therefore, also the
possibility of a traveler with the virus will come from West Africa will decrease,
which ensures the safety in the United States.
Also, there are many efforts of pharmaceutical companies in order to
develop vaccines. Those companies would take up samples of blood of people
who have been recovered from the Ebola Virus Disease. When a body recovers
from a disease, one’s immune system produces an antibody that neutralizes
antigens, such as the Ebola Virus in this case. Pharmaceutical companies are
getting samples of blood of people who have been cured from the Ebola Virus
disease. By studying the antibodies specific to the Ebola virus, the companies
are trying to develop the vaccine. Usually, it takes decades for a pharmaceutical

to develop a new vaccine (Pharma). However for the cases of the Ebola virus,
multiple companies with the aid of government are assisting each other in order
to develop a vaccine that could save thousands of people in West Africa. Again,
when the development of vaccine is finished successfully, those vaccines will be
rapidly supplied to West Africa, ensuring people in that region to be immune from
the virus. Also, if by any chance the virus manages to come into the United
States, same vaccines can be used to ensure safety here.
In other side, CDC is also constantly working in various places in order to
ensure that the virus would not infiltrate United States. First, CDC has sent
people to the heavily affected countries in West Africa. They are working with
airlines and airports in West Africa and health department in the countries to
provide helps to them in inspecting for possible virus carriers. CDC would look if
their systems were good enough that they can conduct effective screening of
travelers. If not, they will also help them by developing the screening system and
also by training the workers in airlines and airports (CDC). If the travelers can be

screened and the virus-carriers can be restricted from traveling, the risk of the
virus infiltrating into the United States and other countries will decrease
Also, if a patient gets sick during travel, CDC also has set up a way of
solving the problem. They have the airlines to always report whenever a
passenger seems to have a symptom of Ebola Virus Disease. Then, CDC will be
able to provide health care to the patient right away and isolate that individual to
prevent further spread. They also take part by investigating every possible
interaction of the patient that could have happen among other passengers in the
same plane (CDC). The example of Amber Vinson, the third Ebola Virus Disease
patient in America, clearly shows how the government is working in order to get
rid of any chance of Ebola epidemic in the United States by helping and
investigating passengers on an airplane.
On the United States soil, there are also efforts to keep Ebola away. Five
main international airports that have planes from countries as Liberia, Sierra

Leon, or Guinea also conduct screening on arriving passengers. About 350
million travelers come from these countries in West Africa. Although the number
of passengers from countries that are marked as an affected area is really huge,
the airlines have effective screening for them. A system of ‘post-arrival
monitoring’ further ensures the disease from spreading. Post-arrival monitoring is
when even the passengers who did not show any symptoms at screening would
also be checked for 21 days if the symptom appears later (CDC). Like this, there
are so many efforts from the government in order to not tolerate any chance of
Ebola entering in to the United States. From this focused and effective screening,
the United States will be safe.
WHO has reported that about 16,000 people have been in Ebola Virus
disease, and approximately 6,000 has died from it (WHO). It was a disaster that
was horrible and brought chaos to the countries in West Africa. Furthermore,
Ebola has terrorized the whole world of the fear of worldwide epidemic. It is still
expected that already heavily affected areas will suffer furthermore, and there are

still so much to be done in order to solve problems in West Africa. People are
constantly dying from the disease, and even the health-care workers in those
areas are affected by it. However, it is fortunate to say that the United States will
be safe from the Ebola Epidemic, because government departments such as
CDC, and health organizations as WHO and Doctors-without-Borders are striving
to stop this chaos.


Angulo, Fred, Dr. "Preventing the Spread of Ebola." 105 Jordan Hall of
Science, Notre Dame. 14 Nov. 2014. Lecture.
CDC. "Cases of Ebola Diagnosed in the United States." Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12
Nov. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
Fox, Maggie. "Nose Spray Ebola Vaccine Protects Monkeys - NBC News."

NBC News. N.p., 3 Nov. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

Pharma. "[Sponsored Message] How Close Are We to an Ebola Vaccine
or Medicine?" TPM. N.p., 08 Dec. 2014. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.
Soergel, Andrew. "Obama: Ebola a 'National Security Priority'" US News.
U.S.News & World Report, 8 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
WHO. "Ebola Virus Disease." WHO. WHO Media Centre, Sept. 2014. Web.
17 Nov. 2014.