Bioethics Blogs

Web Roundup: Ebola 3: Epidemic, Endemic, Continuation as Aftermath? by Sara M Bergstresser

Now that the crisis has waned, will we continue to discuss Ebola as a persistent threat? Or will we let ourselves forget, right up until the next terrifying epidemic?

The process of rebuilding lives and social systems after Ebola is in progress (see NPR’s multimedia presentation “Life After Death“). The possibility that Ebola will become endemic – existing at a constant rate within the human population in affected areas of West Africa – portends a new normal, which some characterize as a sign of failure. Lassa fever, which is a severe and often fatal hemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus, is already endemic in the area. The aftermath for MSF is continued work in the face of continued sorrow. The aftermath for WHO involves reconsideration and reform.

We have had our own aftermath in my local area. Only hours after my last Web Roundup (Ebola Update) came the news that Dr. Craig Spencer had tested positive for the virus and was being treated at Bellevue Hospital. I was scheduled to attend a conference at the adjacent NYU medical center the next morning (A Symposium on World Polio Day and Dr. Salk’s Centenary). Should I be afraid of catching Ebola? I wondered. I wasn’t particularly concerned. Will the conference be cancelled? No, I thought, most of the people there are infectious disease specialists, so this is unlikely to worry them too much. (I should have worried more about the traffic, particularly since the media response caused a great deal of chaos in the area.)

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.