I was struck by the NY Times article that described tracing
the path of the recent Ebola outbreak back to a two year old boy living in
Guinea, Africa (NY
Times) on the border of Sierra Leone. Not only does it forever impress me
how epidemiologists and health officials are able to map the transmission of a
rapidly spreading disease back to a likely origin, but the mystery surrounding
how it all began is not, nor likely to ever be, known. Was it a bat? A piece of
contaminated fruit? It is staggering to think that perhaps natural childhood
curiosity set the stage for this kind of significant international health crisis.
Compounding the tragedy of the numbers of lives lost is the
fear. While the World Health Organization (WHO) have made recommendations to
attempt to limit further spread through education and travel restriction (WHO) the world
is watching and waiting to see what happens, hoping enough help and support can
be mobilized to halt the spread of this epidemic (West
Africa Health Emergency). Though this health emergency is playing out in
West Africa, it is a stark reminder to all just how vulnerable humans are to
existing disease. There is no vaccine and no clear treatment protocol, though
US health workers did receive experimental treatment with good effect (see blog
by John Kaplan). In Africa, however, it is a matter of containment.
An Op Ed from August 8, 2014 NY Times discusses the
management of fear in the hard- hit regions.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.