Health experts’ predictions that a person sick with Ebola soon would travel to the United States and be diagnosed here came true last week, as news from the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday. The story of the man who traveled from Liberia to Dallas, Texas, where he was diagnosed with Ebola — on his second visit to a hospital emergency room — highlighted how small a place infectious diseases make the world; the man was not only the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States during this outbreak, but the first to be diagnosed with the viral disease outside of Africa. It also highlighted challenges to appropriate and comprehensive responses to global diseases at local levels. Still, as CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden emphasized again Tuesday, and as the first article in what we’re reading today notes, the challenges are ones the United States has the capacities to overcome and address. An article in the New York Times about Nigeria’s apparent success in controlling the disease there highlights that those advantages are transferable. At the same time, articles now available with free access from Oxford University Press through November 25 highlight that while global disease may make the world small, that was forgotten, once again over the months between when the outbreak and its spread were noticed, and when an appropriate response began.
The good news about Ebola in America – Mathematical epidemiologist Gerardo Chowell-Puente discusses the vital difference that the advantages of adequate human resources, supplies and public health infrastructure that the United States has make in confronting Ebola, but also raises disturbing spectres of what other types of infection have done, and can still do. Underscoring the frailty of health systems in the countries — Liberia and Sierra Leone — where Ebola remains uncontrolled, he notes that their healthcare systems currently lack the capacity to isolate even half of those infected.
Nigeria’s actions seem to control Ebola outbreak – With no new case of Ebola reported in Nigeria in more than a month, the outbreak there appears controlled, and the country now better prepared than before, according to this article from Donald McNeil. While those outcomes so far are particularly heartening in light of how devastating an uncontrolled outbreak in Africa’s most populous city might have been, the country had advantages — an active HIV response supported by the CDC, as well as a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported emergency command center to address polio outbreaks.
Free access to Oxford University Press resources for Ebola world health emergency – Oxford University Press has combed its archives and is making articles from its journals and online resources discussing aspects of Ebola available free through Nov. 25. Some are recent, written in the early months last spring of the current outbreak, but seem, in terms of the reach and toll of Ebola since, and the length of time it was neglected on an international scale, prescient all the same. Some are from longer ago, including New Players for a new era: responding to the global public health challenges from a lecture delivered in 1996 by Ilona Kickbusch. Noting the impact of Ebola outbreaks as well as AIDS, it calls for multi-faceted and directed responses, and cites a New York Times commentary suggesting that a new G7 include “Bill Gates of Microsoft, because through his software he is building the first truly global marketplace . . . he is doing more to enlarge the global market for goods and services than any trade minister.” (The next year Gates took his first trip to India, to begin to explore global health challenges)