Ebola: Playing the Same Tricks

As the Ebola outbreak in Guinea continues, it is following the pattern of prior Ebola outbreaks. 

Several points that I have highlighted in 2 recent media appearances (Boston Globe and BBC--37:10) are important:

  • Ebola does not take a tremendous amount of technology to stop it in its tracks--simple hygiene when interacting with the body fluids of Ebola patients or their bodies after death is sufficient 
  • Ebola does not spread well--to wit, the cases in Guinea's capital, Liberia and possibly Sierra Leone all appear linked to travelers to and from the original outbreak site in the Guinean forest
  • Those infected with Ebola can travel before sickness and may present with illness at a site disparate to the outbreak, but sustained spread in those settings in which even rudimentary infection control can be practiced is not something to be expected
  • Closing borders, though a natural response to disease, will not make much of a difference in the spread of this disease

Like the outbreaks--some of which were much larger--before it, I anticipate that the Guinean Ebola outbreak will be extinguished once simple measures are put in place.