Gallery D

The Ebola Horror

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Will Ebola Be A World Killer?

By James Donahue

There has always been an unwritten law of nature that when a species of animal gets overpopulated, there is a massive die-off of numbers. This brings everything back into balance.

Humans are part of the animal world, and for thousands of years we suffered the same kind of “thinning of the herd” as plaques swept their way through the land. It was only after the great influenza killing of 1918 that we have managed to ward off new epidemics through the careful use of vaccines and other medical safety nets. We thought at last we had outsmarted the natural order of things.
As the world population grew and grew, however, it appeared that warfare and the insane killing of thousands by crazed dictators was perhaps the way we human animals were following that “law of nature.”

But now comes global warming, a rapid change in weather patterns, a movement of biting insects and a spread of deadly diseases, long lying dormant in the tropics. Now that that tropics are spreading, these deadly diseases appear to be awakening. And lo, one of the worst killers of them all, the Ebola virus, is on the move.

Ebola was not known until it emerged in Sudan and Zaire in 1976. It is a vicious form of hemorrhagic fever and causes its victims to literally bleed to death out of every part of the body. There is no known cure. Usually from 60 to 90 percent of the people who get this disease die. It is so virile that even the medical people involved in treating people suffering from Ebola are dying from it.

Researchers have been studying Ebola since it first emerged. What they know to date it that there appear to be various strains of the virus, which may mean that it mutates quickly. At first the onset was so fast after exposure, the virus could not spread from village to village. But this year the incubation period has lengthened, some believe to about 12 days or longer.

This is enough time for infected people to move around. Or even get on a plane and fly to any other country in the world. This virus, like so many bacteria in the past, has learned to adapt to its environment and survive. It seems that bacteria and virus have a way of communicating, storing information and learning.

The Ebola killer this year is spreading from nation to nation. So far it has remained in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nearly 1,000 people have died.

American doctors and health workers who rushed in to help curb the disease have become its victims. What is frightening is that two victims of Ebola are being flown back to the United States for treatment in a Georgia hospital.

We are assured that the patients will be kept in isolation wards and that great care will be taken to make sure the virus never leaves the hospital, or the plane that carries them, or the other buildings and people who come in contact with the bug. But can we be sure?

The medical people assure us that the disease is spread only by direct contact with an Ebola patient. But there is an indication now that it may also be airborne.

After the recent careless handling of dangerous vials of Anthrax and small pox by CDC workers only weeks ago, can we really trust these medical teams with this one?

Imagine the horror that awaits us all if that virus gets loose in America.