Ebola: A Plague with the potential to alter history?

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The Ebola epidemic in [b]West Africa[/b] has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done. But what is not getting said publically, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time.

Writing in [s]The New York Times[/s], Michael Osterholm, director of the [b]Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota[/b] says there are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night. The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air.

Osterholm says the current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. And each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice. He says we have to remember that Ebola isn’t only West Africa’s problem. If we wait for vaccines and new drugs to arrive to end the Ebola epidemic, instead of taking major action now, we risk the disease’s reaching from West Africa to our own backyards.

Full report in The New York Times

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