Ebola - the real threat

hazmat suit photo The real danger to Americans from Ebola is not from insufficiently strict quarantines, or from failing to “close our borders” to flights from Africa. The real danger to Americans is from not doing enough to curb the spread of the disease in Africa. These articles explain why:

A lot of people are terrified that medical volunteers with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and various Christian missionary organizations, like Samaritan's Purse, will “bring Ebola to America,” and cause an epidemic here. Their fears are misplaced.

MSF has had over 700 North American and European doctors and nurses treating over 3000 Ebola patients in west Africa, for something like six months, and I think that just one of them (Dr. Sawyer) has contracted the disease. MSF has more experience with this disease than anyone else in the world, and they know what they they are doing. (Contrast that with the CDC and that hospital in Dallas, who treated just one Ebola patient, and two nurses became infected from him.)

The threat to Americans is not from doctors and nurses who return to the United States after volunteering to help fight the disease in Africa. The risk of infections spreading from these brave volunteers to other Americans is small, and there is no risk of an out-of-control epidemic spreading in America from them.

Those doctors and nurses are trying to stop this epidemic at its source, in Africa, and their success is critically important, not just for Africans, but for Americans, too.

That's because the more cases there are in Africa, the greater the threat of a disastrous mutation of the disease into a more transmissible form, and a resultant pandemic. We need to stop this epidemic now, in Africa, not just for the sake of the thousands of Africans it is currently killing, but also for the millions of Americans, and others around the world, whose lives it could take, if it mutates to a more transmissible form.

The risk of that catastrophe is directly proportional to the number of infected people in the world. That means the risk of a catastrophic pandemic will be a thousand times greater if 15 million Africans contract Ebola than if only 15 thousand Africans do. So it is essential that the epidemic be stopped at its source, in Africa, as quickly as possible. The real threat to America is worsened by fearful people who impede that work.

Dave Burton
Cary, NC  USA
obfuscated email address
Sat., Nov. 1, 2014