When Ebola first hit Africa this year, I followed the story with growing concern.
I was honestly horrified by the manner in which this disease was spreading.
I understand how various cultures view, treat and care for their dead, according to traditions handed down to them, but along with those customs, there is a certain amount of ignorance passed along with them as well.
Just because we have always done it this way does not mean it’s a good idea.
In Africa, it is customary for close family members to ‘clean’ the body of the deceased to prepare it for burial. In essence, they do the job, that we here, allow our medical examiner or other licensed professionals to handle. We are so far removed from the death process that we cannot imagine the hands on approach performed by our ancestors or those without access to such services. There, the process of cleaning out internal organs, is performed by hand, sans gloves.
This is how they were taught.
This is the only way they know.
They work with what they have; supplies are almost non-existent.
Ignorance; lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc.
Now, enter the pathogen, Ebola. Previous outbreaks, while still deadly were contained.
Only this more recent strain has proven to be more virulent than anything that came before.
A single droplet of sweat from an infected, symptomatic person can spread this on to new hosts.
We can go into a long dissertation on how decades of corruption and Ignorance have come full circle in such third world nations, which are now paying a heavy price for this, as a swath of inhabitants are being laid to waste– but what would be the point?
This isn’t a blame game.
This is now called survival.
The Western World looked on with indifference as this disease began to grow and then spread. As more Africans became infected and died, we took notice but felt safe living an ocean and a continent away.
When four of our own on the front lines were infected, plans were made to bring them here for treatment.
This was met with shock and outcry. Bring this deadly disease, with a 90% kill rate, here? On purpose?
The CDC outlined the precautionary steps being made to ensure safe and confined transport of the ill to Atlanta, their very own headquarters. With their state of the art protections, and advanced protocols, this is the A-team of infectious disease control.
But, no one was fooled. Yes, the infected needed treatment, but what went unspoken, was that they could now study, first hand, how such a deadly virus infiltrates and incapacitates the human system. They now had human trials to experiment with which would put them light years ahead of the curve.
And out of this chaos, a success story was born. One doctor survived the dreaded scourge. (Little mention of the ones that succumbed).
I commend these people for doing a job many, including myself, have no stomach for. They are now working overtime in search of hope, a cure, a vaccine.
But while they were all buttoned up in their isolation suits and had their backs turned, Ebola rode a commercial flight into the heart of a nation that felt too good to be involved. In the guise of a man, from one of the hottest viral spots on the planet, it started its spread, here.
It was easy for us to sit back and say, ‘oh, those poor people in Africa- their ignorance will cost them their lives.’
Unfortunately, our arrogance could cost many of ours as well.
Arrogance; having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
Close air traffic to the infected countries…why?
The reason given was that closing air traffic could devastate an already devastated country by limiting supplies and aid.
No one said to stop aid to them. If people want to fly into these places, let them. But why allow travel out? Arrogance.
It’s only spreading so fast in Africa because of their ignorance over there.
Besides, It can’t spread here. If it does, our medical systems would stop it in its tracks.
To which Ebola replied…’Challenge accepted.’
Reports of possible spreads are coming from Australia, Germany, Spain, France, Norway, US, Brazil. The list grows daily and It is not slowing down.
When it snuck into the Dallas, ER, (not once, but twice), how many people sat next to It in the waiting room, I wonder. How many of the medical workers did It have contact with and are now being diligently watched to see if they contracted it, as well?
When a Spanish nurse treated an infected patient, she then left on vacation the next day, taking Ebola with her.
In Dallas, when a medical staffer, then exposed, now infected, treated US patient-zero in the ER, she then took a commercial flight to Ohio, with It.
A little piece of me can’t help but think, Ebola really loves to travel…especially on commercial airlines. This pathogen is doing what pathogens do–Spreading. It must have seen the reports online about how airlines don’t clean their planes, even in the presence of blood, vomit, urine and God knows what other bodily fluids are present on those seating units. (Fact: Ebola can remain active in sperm up to 82 days. Yeah, suddenly everyone is an expert.)
Now, the CDC, which only a month ago was touting their highly efficient facilities, are saying every hospital in the US is capable of combating this outbreak.
We may be arrogant, but we are not stupid. The majority of hospitals do not have the necessary facilities to completely isolate what needs to be isolated. But I do understand their statements. They are preparing us for the worst case scenario in the eventuality that it spreads beyond control. We need something to believe in. What else can they do?
The bottom line is that even though it was ignorance that helped start the initial spread, it was our arrogance that perpetuated it over here.
I believe, like most other pandemics, this too shall pass.
It will eventually burn itself out– but not before a major culling has been accomplished.
Perhaps, the ones left to rebuild will learn from it and find a cure, not only for the virus itself, if that is at all possible, but for the secondary diseases as well, (Ignorance and Arrogance), that enabled its growth in the first place.
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Remember…when Pandora’s box was opened and all the evils of the world escaped to wreak havoc on mankind, (war,famine,disease), the only creature left within was Hope. She flitted off a short time later, to help heal the wounds that were inflicted by the others.
In the end, this may be the only thing we can cling to, but at least it’s better than nothing.