The World’s Worst Killer: The Ebola Virus

By Francesca Tiravanti, The Straits Times (Expository)

The human race has been battling viruses since the beginning of time, and as a result of that vaccines, antiviral drugs and many antibiotics have been developed in order to keep them from spreading widely and for people to recover if infected; but as the Ebola outbreak of 2014 is still devastating some countries in Africa, we can see this is as a sign that we are still a long way from winning a fight, big or little, against viruses. The first report of the Ebola virus was in the year 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, meaning that it has been present for more than 35 years. The largest outbreak of all time was in West Africa in March 2014. There have been more cases and even more deaths in this last outbreak than combining all of the others together, and furthermore it has spread widely through countries outside of the African continent, affecting them tremendously.

At first, it was thought that fruit bats were the natural Ebola virus hosts, and that it was transmitted to humans from animals; this transmission cannot be through the air or by touch alone; it is only given by direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. As a result of this, health-care workers have been infected while treating patients with the virus since precautions are not strictly followed and it is hard to obtain them in poverty zones, that is why African countries are the most affected ones.

What has been stated is probably the worst part of the virus, are the symptoms it brings. These appear within 8 to 10 days after exposure; extreme fatigue is often the first and most prominent symptom, others can be diarrhea, fever, muscle pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising, and vomiting. 3 years have passed since the last devastating outbreak and the Ebola virus still does not have a cure or vaccine. Measures have been taken to prevent or even try to keep the infected as comfortable as possible, however nearly of 24,000 cases that have been reported there are 10, 000 deaths counted.

The most affected countries to the date are: Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. These African countries have very weak health systems, lack human and infrastructural resources and have recently emerged from extended periods of conflict and instability. The Special Summit on Sustainable Development has many goals in their agenda, and one of them is to help countries like those to develop socially, economically and  most of all politically after these health crises. A country with a poor political system is on its way to failure, that is why it has been stated that they need to implement health systems and invest in public health. Finding a way for a sustainable development that seeks the benefits of the economic growth of affected countries is what this committee is aiming for.

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