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Monday, 20 October 2014

Ebolaied – (pronounced 'E-bowl-a-eye-d') - The latest public health concern.

No disrespect intended for a disease that has tragically taken the lives of over 4500 people and the numbers will continue to mount

Ebolaied is the latest public health threat.  The manifestations being irrational fear mixed with overzealous misplaced responses while misappropriating scarce resources from more important issues.  The symptoms among public health professionals being drooping eye sockets with insommia initiated shadows.  The pathognomonic symptom being the rolling of eyes upon utterance of the word ‘Ebola’.

From Tyvek space suits to unnecessary quarantines, the actions of the misinformed and sometimes purposefully misdirected have resulted in spiraling escalation of actions in the name of public health that are unwarranted and unreasonable.  

So in the midst of this overreaction, there are so things to be amused. 

The best line we have heard is the one where all we needed to do to respond to Ebola was take the CDC plan for the zombie apocalypse and replace the word ‘zombie’ with ‘Ebola’ CDC zombie apocalypse planning.   

Some of the more real responses  can only be met with irreverent laughter. CNN’s sensationalist reporting of the poor lab worker who was on holiday on a cruise;  The youth wheeled through a Nigeria airport with a plastic bag over their head as they had returned from an Ebola zone; The Air Canada pilot who refused to fly a biologic specimen requiring Ebola testing to Winnipeg; The closure of borders; The quarantine of persons returning from Africa thousands of kilometers from any outbreak zone.   Share your horror stories in the comments section of what stupidity you have witnessed.

And the irrational fervor continues to mount, dressed in parascience and the worse than the worst case scenarios with little attention to facts.

Don’t expect the overreaction to wane in the near future, or at least not until evidence mounts of control happening in the three West African counties impacted (with Guinea making fair progress while Sierra Leone and Liberia have extension into large urban settings which will confound control activities).

Moreover, as the phobias mount, continuity of food supplies and other essential services will become more problematic.  As health services are exhausted treating Ebola, other diseases will break through and the death tolls from non-Ebola disease as a consequence of the outbreak will exceed the primary outbreak.

No doubt much could have been done to more effectively respond to the initial outbreak that began back in March.  For the dozen global deaths outside of the outbreak zone perhaps these might have been avoided by more aggressive early control.  Now however, we have passed the point of reason and entered an arena fit for barbaric human combat where the price is paid in unnecessary human lives.

The positive arising from the horrific situation will include better treatments, improved mass mobile treatment facilities, perhaps an effective vaccine, for a time period improved international outbreak management, and it appears local infection control programming will get a boost.  Whether international aid efforts and approaches to managing countries in crisis will benefit remains to see.

For all colleagues suffering from Ebolaied, be assured you are not alone – we will survive and congregate over a favourite beverage to share the war stories, as we bemoan the lack of resources needed to prepare for the next global onslaught caused by an emerging pathogen.   

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