Yamani A. Woody
3 December 2014
Stopping an International Pandemic
Thousands of lives are being lost due to 2014’s most devastating outbreak of Ebola.
Ebola is a highly contagious virus that is transmittable through close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Although the virus is not airborne, it is spreading rapidly through the countries of West Africa, mostly Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone (World Health
Organization). The virus has become a tyrant to mankind because there are no vaccines and no cure. The only options left are to monitor, treat, and quarantine the infected. “There’s a fair analogy to terrorism,” Jim Walker' deputy director of an international charity' said (qtd. in
Sheets). Walker compared battling Ebola to fighting terrorism, “You can choose to go abroad and fight terrorism at its source or you can wait until it comes to America and fight it here,” he said (qtd. in Sheets). Ebola has a fair chance of spreading internationally if not stopped in its tracks. Obstacles in the way stopping the spread of Ebola are fear, lack of education, and poverty. Fear is an emotion felt when one is faced with something dangerous, painful, or threatening.
Fear is compromising the outbreak control because when people are afraid, they make irrational decisions and use improper judgement. Fear is causing airlines and courier services to refuse to transport personal protective equipment and properly secured packages of patient samples to approved laboratories (World Health Organization). Due to the lack of
transportation needed, the supplies for treatment are reduced causing Ebola to spread. Patients and those around them are afraid of death and the threat of the government placing people under quarantines. The contacts of infected people in return make irrational decisions such as helping loved ones escape from the surveillance system. Families also hide symptomatic loved ones or take them to traditional healers, and even help patients flee treatment centers due to the fear of mortality (World Health Organization). People who have the virus or who have been in contact with someone infected make irrational decisions because of their lack of education about the virus. In fact, “It’s a lack of education or ignorance that creates fear” (Knight).
The lack of education causes Ebola to be spread due to misjudgment and poor decisions.
In the infected areas of Africa, the people continue traditional burial practices that involve close physical contact of family members and friends with dead bodies. If these people knew that lack of sanitation in the burial spreads the virus, they would have had better judgment and avoided close contact. This is evident in Guinea, where, “... around 60% of cases have been linked to these burial practices, with women, who are the principal caregivers, disproportionately affected”
(World Health Organization). The lack of education of the virus is a severe obstacle to the stop of Ebola’s spread because there is no cure or vaccine. “...the fact that it’s the unknown, it’s such a deadly disease, and even most international volunteers haven’t dealt with something like…