Ebola - it should be stopped

Look at the print screen picture and at the pictures in the article, showing how health workers are dressed to help victims of the Ebola virus. Are health workers normally dressed like this? They are not. Most of them, and certainly those who choose to work in poor countries, do this out of love for other humans and thus are often very social, preferring direct contact with patients (although may wear gloves to tough patients) instead of wearing those protective clothing, certainly in such hot countries. Indeed, workers describe how they have to follow a course to know how to dress, how they struggle to put the clothes on and take them off while they can only work for a short period of time in these clothes because people get very hot inside. Thus, when healthcare workers have to wear such clothing, it indicates something is seriously wrong. Nevertheless, although all healthcare workers wear protective clothing, the best ones are not available for all workers and as a result, although they had some protection, over 200 died because they helped others. This indicates the illness is to be taken very seriously as also this article suggest.

Then there is a nurse in Maine, US, who refuses to go into quarantine. After she complained, she was allowed to go home although was ordered to stay inside and requested to have blood taken. Still, even now she refused to accept the conditions and went cycling, followed by a police car to check whether she had any contact with other people. I simply think she is a mad woman who enjoys being in the news (or she may be ill and the virus influences her thinking so that she wants to meet people to infect them). Indeed, how can anybody who comes from such a badly affected region with such a terrible disease not understand they are taken into quarantine to be sure they are clean so they will not infect family and friends and people they don't know while, if the person may develop symptoms in those 21 days, then they are close to healthcare? Why was she not immediately arrested for breaking her conditions? Why was she allowed to walk around while already some returning healthcare workers developed symptoms and one person even died? The measures are taken to prevent the spread of this disease. Indeed, if newspapers can be trusted, then this disease even spreads upon contact with the death. If she really had been in Africa to help those people, how could she then not accept the quarantine after seeing so many people dying from it? As long as it is not 100% proven the disease doesn't spread via body fluids such as saliva released during sneezing, should we then not allow States to take draconian measures to prevent a spread? (And if we don't know, it is better to say so because then people will be careful while if we say it doesn't spread to calm people while we don't know, then it may increase the numbers of infections as people will be less careful if later it may show to be infectious. Indeed, these diseases will force us to be as open as possible or people may loose faith in those who try to help them. Still, those helping are clever enough to tell the facts without scaring people too much.) If the nurse (or another in future) may spread the illness, we don't want people to panic and become paranoia and prevent any return of health workers. Because then the army will be employed to protect politicians (and scientists) who may become the focus of anger towards them as people may blame them for not doing enough to stop the disease.

Therefore, I think this woman should be arrested and sentenced to jail for at least a year (after the incubation period) for disobeying the orders that are intended to protect the general public from a deadly disease that already killed thousands of people in Africa, unless the virus affects her brain and she is no longer responsible for her actions but then she should receive treatment, even against her will. Quarantine should be humane but is only ordered in exceptional and thus not the most pleasant of circumstances. I understand no-one wants to be locked in an area where other people may have the disease; still, those people returning understand the risks. I think, if this woman may spread the illness she should at least be sentenced to prison for a number of years as an example that people have to follow certain procedures that are intended to prevent bigger disasters, even if believed to be out of proportions. This is differently from spreading a disease when people don't know the illness exist; for instance AIDS could spread in the past because we didn't know it existed until people started to become ill and die.

One of the reasons Ebola became a huge problem in Africa was because (1) governments reacted too slowly to the disease and thus people didn't receive correct information and continued to walk around in densely populated regions until they died while (2) sometimes people in quarantine escape or are 'liberated' (when Africans refuse quarantine they are called stupid) but also (3) because of insufficient help such as providing food and thus people have to search for food, while when enough help reaches the region the situation can improve. And as long as the outbreak remains in a 'relatively' small region, it can be maintained. But of course, anti-government organisations have so often blamed governments for all evils in society that many people no longer trust governments while those who wanted small governments now fear the disease and want a strong one. Still, if the Ebola epidemic may continue to become bigger as scientist Dr Peter Piot believes, and if America and Oceania handle this crisis well, then they may be the only continents where Ebola doesn't have a chance of spreading (on condition that people, returning from the Ebola-hit region, arrive in a few airports, are checked on arrival and accept quarantine if needed; then help can still be given while the government can show they control the situation) while other continents are probably too close to Africa to prevent unchecked immigrants arriving (unless maybe an island that refuses access to any person, and even then). Indeed, people can try to hold their hands as tight together as possible, but always some water will leak through. And one weaker moment and the hands become looser and the water flows away. (Indeed, also boats transport people.) That is why science is now very important to combat the disease, not nurses running around. And therefore the EU, Russia and even China, as wealthy countries, should invest money to try to stop this disease while we can be sure that the US gives. But probably, many countries are keeping their money to save possible future failings of banks while don't mind poor (black) people dying until it reaches us. Still, as in the past, the disease may die-off and only later resurface or another disease may arise; however, then we should have learned lessons to know how to prevent diseases from spreading worldwide. But hoping it will disappear on its own, that kills.

Indeed, the disease is no joke, otherwise scientists would not discuss whether or not to use experimental drugs and vaccines on humans, something unheard off as indeed many people claim it sometimes takes too long before a new drug is licensed to threat diseases. In addition, (peaceful) health organisations call for the help of the military to tackle the problem (and thus the army can have a positive contribution, e.g. distributing food). But already the vultures are telling lies that health organisations are spreading the disease via injections, rumours that can cause fear amongst the local people and can result in disasters. Can you imagine what may happen if the new drugs may not work or may cause serious side-effects? Indeed, people may believe the vultures and no longer the health workers, even when later a better drug can be used. As a consequence, those who help the people may have to leave so the vultures can exploit the people unwatched and use the army to suppress the people, causing further spread of the disease if people fear the army.

If the drugs and vaccines become available, I think we should be as honest with the people as possible because I think openness is one of the ways to defeat the illness while liars may win in the short-term but will loose in the longer time when people notice who can be trusted. If people ask how bad it can get, people should be informed correctly or they may read it one day in (scientific) journals (even Africans have internet) and no longer trust the persons who are helping and follow the liars. If people know how bad it can get but know people are working hard to find solutions, they may still panic and run away but many may understand healthcare workers are there to help. When these experimental drugs are given, I think healthcare workers should explain they are new little-known products (e.g. how good do they work or what are their side-effects?). As many people need to be helped, maybe first use the products on volunteers and if it works, other people will follow (if they work, have enough of them or people may start fighting to get them and thus indeed the army may be needed to keep order). Doing so, no-one is forced to take something that is not yet really known. If things may go wrong (e.g. some people develop serious side-effects), well-informed people may understand it is not Ebola while otherwise people may panic and become angry towards healthcare workers. In addition, if people know that not every person receiving the drugs will survive, people accept this better than when they don't know. And when people survive, inform them not to celebrate it with sex because it seems they can still infect others. But those helping are more experienced than me in knowing what to do and how to provide information.

President Obama was hugging a nurse after she was fully cleared from Ebola. Indeed, only when people are past the incubation period or no longer ill can they be hugged and should they be accepted again in society, although that is often hard. Healthcare workers in Ebola-hit areas don't hug people to comfort them as they understand that doing so may kill them. Indeed, we don't need to panic as long as we use our brains so the disease can't spread. Only logic and information can stop the spread of diseases and people panicking, not emotions and political correctness because the virus is not a racist and kills whatever the colour of the person. Therefore, the message should be very clear: don't hug a person who returned from an Ebola-hit area until the incubation period is over and no symptoms developed.

Comparisons with AIDS don't count. Indeed, AIDS can only be caught via unsafe sex or unclean needles but also in societies without law and order where people are raped. People can't get it via other body contact, even not via kissing (= body fluids) while Ebola kills via contact and is thus much worse; therefore, we certainly don't want it in our society. Also AIDS started in Africa and could spread unhindered for many years until it became a global pandemic but this was because we didn't know it existed. But ignorance can't be an excuse for Ebola although it may be too powerful and thus money is needed to stop it (for science and healthcare workers to develop and provide cures, for military and police to keep order but also to provide medicines and food and drinks).

Some people joke about fat people eating hamburgers, drinking beers and smoking cigarettes while they are scared from the far-away Ebola. But the unhealthy pleasures are free choices of people to lighten our lives (unless for poor people who can only afford those cheap pleasures) while Ebola is not a free choise. Eating unhealthy food may indeed one day kill the person but is still preferable to not eating. But not catching Ebola is preferable compared with catching it, even in the short time. People understand this.

In conclusion, can you imagine the moment a returning healthcare worker gets ill in a street and infects some people who were helping of which some die? Certainly when the person had up to 21 days to travel to different places where no-one knows the person was in Africa? Plenty of time would be wasted to find out the person returned from Africa or had contact with someone returning from Africa and more people may become infected. Indeed, people and politicians may demand the closure of borders and stop any person returning. But also, if later a person develops a heart attack, people may be too scared to help, resulting in the death of the person because doctors think the person may have Ebola. Only for that reason it is better that returning healthcare workers (and tourists) waiste less than one month of their lives in quarantine than risk to infect others (including their own children) while if treatment is needed, it can start as soon as symptoms become obvious. Still, stopping all infected people who are trying to flee the region may not be possible but at least than we will know that unexpected cases are not due to returning healthcare workers and tourists while possible cases can be low. The UN is calling for more help (thus situation is serious) but that also means more workers will return in future and statistics teach us the risks will increase. Therefore, stopping flights (except for help) to those areas while quarantine returning people may be a solution (maybe designate some airports where people can have some comfort). Up to the scientists to advise governments, not to 'politically-correct' people who may dismiss solutions because they don't want to upset people. And the press, it should inform the public, also about measures taken by governments to protect the public and that should be followed.


On a personal note: the above is my own personal view that I developed after reading a number of articles (including scientific articles). Maybe people have ways on how they think the spread of the disease can be stopped or how to prevent panic amongst the population when it arrives. But don't tell me that not following certain rules is acceptable as some people will always try to oppose rules. That is, unless the actions taken by governments are wrong because they panic. But that can be determined then. Therefore, we should help now.

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