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Are we closer to stopping Ebola?

August 27th, 2014
01:17 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

It has been over five months since the worst outbreak of Ebola in history struck West Africa.

In Liberia, more than 570 people have died from disease.

But the nation's Information Minister Lewis Brown told the program that they are making progress tackling the spread of the virus.

"We believe now that we are better positioned than we've been in a couple of months to be able to get a handle on this and hopefully to eradicate it from our country."

Talking from Liberia's capital, Monrovia, he was hopeful but quite frank about the troubles his country faced when trying to halt the charge of infections.

"The truth of the matter is we're not just fighting a disease in isolation; we're fighting the disease with people we know. We're fighting cultural, long-held cultural practices and beliefs. And certainly we're not the most enlightened society in the world. And we're trying to bring every tool imaginable to bear in helping our communities help themselves."

"It is truly a difficult fight. We need all hands on deck. We need all those expertise to align behind this fight as best as we can."

'It's very difficult to predict when this epidemic will stop'

David Heymann, who co-discovered the virus almost 40 years ago, felt that this expertise was now on hand thanks to organisations that have finally been galvanized into action.

"This outbreak began because the initial response was not robust enough. But it's not good to look backwards; it's good to look forward now. And what we see now is that the World Health Organization is really stepping up to coordinate activities."

"Hopefully this will help the NGOs and other groups who are working in these countries, better work together, better fill the gaps of what needs to be done and stop this epidemic."

Across the world there are concerns about where the virus could spread next. Christiane Amanpour asked the scientist if he was afraid of the contagion going global. He replied he was scared for the people of Africa but not for those in Europe or the United States.

"Ebola has spread into Europe in the past, into Switzerland." he went on to say. "In Switzerland, it was rapidly contained in a hospital and there were no other infections. In fact, it wasn't even known it was Ebola; it was a fever from an African country."

"Where there's good hospital infection control, there's not a risk that this disease will spread."

Filed under:  Africa • Christiane Amanpour • Ebola • Latest Episode • Liberia
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. ashok

    Some of the drugs even at experimental stage seem to have worked well. 40 years is a long time for the global community not to have addressed a disease that had such a stunningly high mortality rate to begin with. Ebola when it first came out of the African rain forest was something a person developing biological weapons might have come up with.

    August 27, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Reply
    • H. B.

      A very STUPID person wanting to use Ebola as a biological weapon. It has this unlovely tendency to spread. Beyond the people you target with it, and maybe even coming back to YOU.

      Maybe some people ARE that stupid. But those around them would probably include some who know just HOW stupid it is, and they'd be told to find something else.

      The use of Ebola as a weapon is suicidal.

      August 28, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  2. Salim

    Once record has shown that some people were treated and got healed then we are closer to the solution .i suggest our concern should emphasize prevention,vaccination to prevent the spread of the Ebola disease .Surely we get there scientist need to do more research as S A R S came and gone so will Ebola

    August 27, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  3. Jason Pillai

    I guess it will get worse before it gets better. There should be more focus on educating the masses about this disease. Hopfully much more focus gets put on this before it spreads to the rest of africa and the world

    August 28, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  4. H. B.

    I'm dismayed that politics, religion and the resulting disinformation, is doing regarding this epidemic.

    The epidemic itself is very real. But it is being used to serve other agendas. Such as profits for drug companies, and helping to push religion.

    I find it extremely hard to accept that Brantly, who had Ebola several days, then got ZMapp, came home, and a few days later was running around in crowds, hugging people, and praising his god.

    He could not have had Ebola in the first place. The virus creates trillions of virus particles, and in a very rapid manner in the body. It isn't reasonably possible to deem him free of infectious virus in such a short period of time. To let him go into public places, touching people, that soon is astonishingly irresponsible. Unless, of course, he never had Ebola at all. As for Writebol, I don't have enough knowledge yet to form an opinion.

    And though I know CNN has tried every which way to reassure us that it could never happen to US, I'm now dismayed at Dr. Gupta, who flatly stated that Ebola does not liquefy a person's organs. That is blatantly untrue.

    The book, "Hot Zone" is about the outbreak of Ebola Reston, in Reston, Virginia. It infected monkeys, but those combating it had to assume it would kill people, too. Fortunately, although several of the people working in the monkey facility DID pick up the virus, it didn't make any humans sick.

    At one point, a doctor from USAMRID wanted to get hold of some monkeys who'd died, and there was a delay. She was frustrated, and said, "You can't dissect gumbo." Liquefied organs, in other words.

    That book was NOT a work of fiction, but of very intense journalism.

    What Dr. Gupta claimed couldn't happen – DOES. Many patients who die "crash and bleed out," which means their intestines are expelled from the body as a bloody mush, which is profoundly infectious.

    So now, I don't feel inclined to accept any pablum from C NN about why we shouldn't worry about Ebola coming here. It can, and it looks as though it probably WILL, unless we are very lucky.

    Would we be able to contain it and keep it from spreading? Maybe. And maybe not. Depending on whether it goes out of control here. If it gets into a big city, it'll be just as bad as it is in the larger cities in W. Africa. People would try to run, and hide their sick ones, just for starters.

    The whole question is whether it could get out of control and overwhelm our own medical capabilities or not. That would have EVERYTHING to do with where it first emerged. In a big city, it'd be – BAD.

    August 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Reply
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