In my fourth installment of Ebola quotes, we look at the motivations of the murder of eight Ebola health workers and journalists in Guinea, the United States commitment of military assets, a little debate on the topic of Ebola airborne transmission and some words from Samaritan’s Purse physician and Ebola survivor, Dr. Kent Brantly.
Of course we heard of the tragic killings in Womme, Guinea where a delegation of eight people were killed. Guinea government spokesman, Albert Damantang Camara told the media, “It’s very sad and hard to believe, but they were killed in cold blood by the villagers.” Why would the villagers kill these people there to help?
A local police officer, Richard Haba, said the villagers believed that Ebola “is nothing more than an invention of white people to kill black people.” Tragic.
Earlier this week, President Obama committed 3,000 US military troops to aid in the Ebola outbreak. In a speech, Mr. Obama offered this dire warning, “It’s a potential threat to global security if these countries break down. If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people affected, with profound economic, political and security implications for all of us.”
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. agrees with the President that the Ebola crisis is dire and deteriorating–“The president’s request to send 3,000 of our troops shows the vital leadership role our military plays not just in war, but also in knowing how to safely and quickly mobilize resources to aid an international crisis and assist those who are vulnerable and in need.”
At the United Nations, special envoy to West Africa, David Nabarro said, “This is a disease outbreak that is advancing in an exponential fashion. I estimate that to get ahead of outbreak, the level of response needs to be about 20 times greater than it is at the moment.”
This comes when a worst-case scenario estimate of the West Africa Ebola outbreak by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts it at 550,000 or more infections by January’s end!
Dr Joanne Liu, the international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who have been there since the beginning, welcomed the UN Security Council Ebola meeting this week. “”We call on member states and others to follow the lead of countries who have committed to join the fight against Ebola. We need concrete action on the ground now.
“Speed is of the essence. Although dangerously late, the pledges such as those of the US and UK are ambitious, but they must be implemented now. We do not have months or even weeks to wait. Thousands of lives are at stake. Other countries must commit to deploying assets and staff to the affected region as soon as possible.
“We are in uncharted waters. It is impossible to predict if the current pledges are enough because we do not know how the situation will degenerate in the coming weeks.
“There is no response too large. Flexibility to adapt to this unpredictable situation is paramount. Field hospitals, trained staff and coordination are desperately needed bring Ebola under control. Today.”
Last week, we looked at Dr. Michael Osterholm’s Op-Ed piece where the CIDRAP director discussed issues of mutation and possible airborne transmission of the Ebola virus. In response, Columbia University Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Dr. Vincent Racaniello wrote in his Virology Blog:
When it comes to viruses, it is always difficult to predict what they can or cannot do. It is instructive, however, to see what viruses have done in the past, and use that information to guide our thinking. Therefore we can ask: has any human virus ever changed its mode of transmission?
The answer is no. We have been studying viruses for over 100 years, and we’ve never seen a human virus change the way it is transmitted.
There is no reason to believe that Ebola virus is any different from any of the viruses that infect humans and have not changed the way that they are spread.
I am fully aware that we can never rule out what a virus might or might not do. But the likelihood that Ebola virus will go airborne is so remote that we should not use it to frighten people. We need to focus on stopping the epidemic, which in itself is a huge job.
Concerning the economic impact of the Ebola crisis, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said, “The primary cost of this tragic outbreak is in human lives and suffering, which has already been terribly difficult to bear, but our findings make clear that the sooner we get an adequate containment response and decrease the level of fear and uncertainty, the faster we can blunt Ebola’s economic impact.”
Lastly, some words from two American physicians who treated Ebola patients. Much of the news centers around Liberia, the hardest hit of the West African countries. There is also Sierra Leone, which Dr. George Risi, a Missoula, Montana infectious disease specialist who recently returned from 20 days of volunteer work in an Ebola virus ward in Sierra Leone said, “The health care system in Sierra Leone is just overwhelmed. It’s great that international agencies are stepping up in a big way. Cuba is sending 165 health care workers next week. But there’s so much more you wish you could do.”
Dr. Kent Brantly spoke to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee during a hearing about global efforts to fight Ebola this week and spoke of the bureaucracy surrounding the outbreak efforts–“Agencies like the World Health Organization remain bound up by bureaucracy. Their speeches, proposals, and plans, though noble, have not resulted in any significant action to stop the spread of Ebola.”
Speaking to a reporter after the hearing, Brantly urged fellow healthcare professionals to consider traveling to West Africa to lend their skills in the Ebola outbreak. “For people who want to go, I say don’t delay. Go,” he said. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page