Ebola – I’m scared

Featured image: Huffington Post

I know this might sound a bit extreme to most people, but I am honestly terrified of an Ebola outbreak here in Europe. You might have heard that the deadly disease has made its way to Madrid now and many newspapers are predicting a 50% chance of it reaching the UK and France by 24th October.

The question is: Are we really prepared?

Many have been criticising Africa for not dealing with the crisis properly, but we’re talking about very poor countries here, with health care that just cannot be compared to Europe or the rest of the world. But it turns out we were too quick to judge, because it seems we do not handle the situation any better than Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Take the latest case in Spain. Just how on earth can a nurse treating two Ebola patients get infected herself? It turns out she did not follow the procedures properly. This scares the hell out of me and I feel that people like that should not be health care professionals or at least not be allowed to deal with such a dangerous virus. Also, the equipment was substandard and did not meet WHO standards which is unacceptable. More than 50 possible contacts are now being monitored, but I doubt that this is the real number – the Ebola patient in the US alone had contact with over 100 people and he was not a health care professional. You can read the article here.

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Airbus A310 which transported the infected priest back to Spain. Source: Telegraph

It basically shows that Spain is not equipped to handle an Ebola outbreak. But neither are other countries. Irish medics say that “the country is ill-prepared for an outbreak of the Ebola virus”. Many surgeries have not received the recommended equipment when treating a suspected Ebola patient.

Let’s take a look at the US, Dallas to be precise. It’s their first case of Ebola and the patient is fighting for his life. How did they deal with it? When the patient showed symptoms and sought medical help he was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics.

World Health Organisation (WHO) previously said that ‘Europe is at low risk from the virus’ but they keep changing their statement and are now stating that Ebola in Europe is unavoidable.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts one worst-case scenario at 550,000 infections.

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Source: Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images

Ebola destroys living tissue cells, which leads to the haemorrhaging, or bleeding. The average fatality rate is 50%. It is transferred from person to person through contact with the blood or secretions of other bodily fluids of infected people. Symptoms are:

– rapidly developing fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headaches, sore throat at the start

– followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, kidney and liver problems and bleeding

Death can be very painful, as the disease destroys connective tissue and also attacks skin and internal organs. There is no vaccine for Ebola and no cure, apart from an experimental drug called ZMapp. How dangerous is it? It is classified as a level 4 biohazard, regarded as the most dangerous and requiring decontamination for those who work with it.

It sounds horrifying. Are you scared yet? No? You should be. 

In order to stop the disease from spreading once it arrives in other countries, OUR countries, we need to stop thinking “Oh, this was Africa. Europe is totally different!”. We need to take this matter seriously and that starts with proper hygiene.

I have started to get into a routine of disinfecting everything from work surfaces to door handles. I also wash my hands more often and disinfect them every time before I touch my nose, mouth or eye and when I handle food & drink. The bf and I are going to stock up on sanitiser, gloves, face masks and frozen/canned food + rice. It might sound crazy but if there is an outbreak here in Dublin we will stay inside and wait how the HSE (Health Service Executive) is going to react.

Under no circumstances would we go to work. I don’t even want to think about the possibilities of how much Ebola can spread at all the large corporations here in Ireland and they all have open plan offices with air conditioning and many employees share desks.

Companies need to start implementing business continuity plans by handing out laptops and phones to office based employees or at the very least make sure staff can access their emails and company applications remotely. I can imagine that once there have been several confirmed cases e.g. 50+, people will no longer wish to come to work. I won’t.

I am scared of getting infected and dying. I am worried sick about the possibility of my family, partner and friends contracting the virus. I am frightened of losing the people I love the most. Let’s hope for the best.

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