Ebola Virus Disease: The 2014 West African Outbreak and Epidemic Preparedness in the United States
On March 25, 2014, the Ministry of Health of Guinea officially announced an Ebola outbreak in the southeastern region of West Africa. The Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976, when two simultaneous outbreaks occurred in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The current outbreak is the largest one seen since its first appearance in 1976, with more cases and deaths than all other outbreaks combined. This paper considers the current Ebola epidemic. It addresses the reemergence of the disease after long periods of absence by considering its reservoir and analyzing the causes of its eruption. The discussion of the Ebola virus disease is extended to the public health realm by examining the current situation and treatment plan, and considering where the line should be drawn between public health and individual rights. By analyzing what went wrong in certain cases that led to death, conclusions can be formulated about which aspects of the treatment plan have proved successful, versus those that have not, to determine how future cases should be handled. Finally, the unique characteristics of the virus are discussed within the broader context of the drugs used in treating Ebola patients and possible future treatments, including vaccines and other drugs that may disturb the usual virus replication strategy.
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