Going viral

All publicity is good publicity, right?

Not necessarily

I think the pained expression was caused by a combination of three things:

  1. An audio feed that nearly ruptured my right eardrum
  2. The inevitable Should we be concerned? question about Ebola*
  3. The interminable delay getting through the roadworks onto campus

* yes, we should be concerned. We should be concerned for the people in West Africa experiencing this devastating outbreak. We should be doing more, individually and at a governmental level. However, the real question being asked is usually a truncation of Should we be concerned that there will be an outbreak here? In which case the answer is “No”. We have all the things Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone lack … we are a wealthy country, we have an excellent healthcare system, we have a reasonably well-educated population who generally trust the authorities and healthcare professionals, we have excellent infrastructure. A recent paper in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases details the economic and ecological factors that have contributed to this current outbreak in West Africa.

Ebola can be controlled and outbreaks eradicated using a combination of well-established methods in contact tracing, patient isolation and barrier protection. These methods have worked in all previous outbreaks. They will work in this outbreak (they have already worked in containing the spillover cases in Nigeria), but the longer it takes until they are effectively applied, the more cases that will occur.