Guest Post: The Danger of Ebola

This is a guest post by Philip Lederer, an ID fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer and has also worked in Mozambique as clinical director of the UCSD-Maputo Central Hospital Educational Collaboration.

The danger of Ebola goes well beyond the thousands of cases reported so far in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and neighboring countries. It goes beyond the models which estimate that up to 1.4 million cases could occur by next year (1). The danger doesn’t have to do with Ebola becoming airborne or spreading widely across the United States. 

Ebola is still centered in West Africa, and the danger is of collateral damage. Malaria control programs have shut down in the 3 countries, according to a recent report (2). Cholera could reemerge, as there was a 2012 outbreak in Sierra Leone (3). People are losing their jobs. Starvation and violence could kill many more people than the Ebola virus. It’s time for the world to act.

1) Meltzer MI, Estimating the Future Number of Cases in the Ebola Epidemic — Liberia and Sierra Leone, 2014–2015

2) Hayden EC, Ebola outbreak shuts down malaria-control efforts

3) Nguyen VD et al, Cholera epidemic associated with consumption of unsafe drinking water and street-vended water--Eastern Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2012.


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