The lesson the CDC and WHO should have learned is that it is much cheaper in money spent and lives lost to kill a disease before it becomes epidemic. Now is the time to attack future disease outbreaks, while there is still the political interest needed for action. Kill diseases before they appear!!! That would have sounded impossible a year ago, but the development of vaccines to fight Ebola using modern CRISPR techniques proved it could be done in less than a year. It would now be possible to create vaccines for known diseases that haven’t yet moved from their wild sources to humans.
This week new Ebola (EVD) cases dropped to zero after killing 11,312 people.
The logarithmic chart above demonstrates how Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) doubled in victims every month for eleven months. In fact the disease spread much faster the first month because the first victim Emile’s grandmother Koumba, having seen her grandchildren and daughter die, traveled to several different cities’ hospitals in an attempt to save her own life. It was her many contacts that set Ebola going. The EVD disease was totally unknown in the West Africa area and the symptoms were not recognized by visual inspection, and the medical people contracted the disease themselves. It wasn’t until blood samples were flown to France that lab tests discovered that it was EVD. That was on March 20, 2014, and by then over one hundred people had the disease, and they were spread over a wide area. As is easily seen from the chart above, it took six months before the disease was being treated effectively and began tapering off, but by then it took vast resources to bring it under control. If at the moment the lab results confirmed it was Ebola an immediate effort had been launched, the deaths could have been limited to under a hundred people, eleven thousand lives could have been saved, and billions of dollars could have been saved too. Even with zero cases this past week, the West African Ebola Virus Disease isn’t gone until it’s totally gone, and there may be some undiscovered cases lurking.
Here is what can be done and should be done soon.
- Create vaccines for all potential diseases. They need not be distributed, but if a few thousand doses were available they could reach outbreak victims within days.
- Create digital response packages for all potential diseases. This would be instantly available information such as handout flyers, posters, radio and TV announcements, doctor’s information packets on how to identify and treat the emergent disease. Public administrators packets could be created on what has worked in previous outbreaks.
- Make free medical care available to all people who have symptoms similar to the outbreak disease.
- Give free cell phones to people who have been exposed to contagious diseases. These phones could be worn on a necklace and be contacted every day, and the person checked for symptoms. It could have built-in symptom monitors.
- Search the world for disease-spreading behaviors, and promote safer methods for accomplishing the same thing. Create similar but safer funeral practices.
CDC Ebola response timeline. Click images for bigger pictures.
We can see on this CDC chart that there was a period from March to July where the relatively cheap proposals above might have been effective. The primary need is for information packets to be given to the people involved. If in those first months the people with Ebola-like symptoms had known what to do, and the local medical people had known how to identify and treat the disease, it probably would have withered away.
For illustration, here are some posters from the 1918 influenza epidemic. The suggested treatments would now be better, but the idea I am proposing is to get accurate information to the public instantly, before a disease becomes epidemic. Source U.S. National Library of Medicine
Prevent Influenza 1918 poster, when 300 million people (equivalent to our modern population) died. See Flu 2018 on the chart above.
Influenza is spread by droplets sprayed from nose and throat.
A chart similar to this one specific to the suspect disease should be available within one day.
These posters could have been put up before the epidemic developed and it would have lowered the transmission rate. Broadcast specific information on how to prevent a viral disease from spreading by demonstrating how to separate the virus sources from people. We must support Ebola survivors by giving them well paid work that only they can do safely. Future public policy should be that survivors of epidemics are to be sought out and immediately trained as basic caregivers. Although specific situations are still bad, humanity as a whole is healthier than ever before, but until a vaccine is available, the only effective control of Ebola is the physical separation of the virus from people. Soon, Ebola may become one of the diseases, like smallpox, that has been intentionally eliminated from the Earth. By using CRISPR technology, in twenty years human diseases of the world may be gone, and most animal ones too. Right now we need to praise those people who have worked so hard to bring Ebola to an end.
We need a worldwide “Life Day” honoring those people who have risked their lives for humanity’s preservation.
[Click here] for all of Probaway’s EBOLA posts arranged by date. The recent posts will be at the top, and there is good information covered earlier and not repeated.