The latest on Ebola is even more alarming than you thought:
[N]ew research suggests that the speed at which it’s spreading is totally out of proportion to past outbreaks. Thomas House, a mathematician at the UK’s University of Warwick, used historical data from outbreaks reported by the World Health Organization—24 in total—to create a mathematical model for the spread of the virus. By analyzing information on the timing of the outbreaks, the number of cases, and the number of people who died, he was able to develop a model that describes the pattern of all outbreaks—except for one. The current outbreak is off the charts.
And House can’t explain why:
“It could be a mutation,” he said. “It could be that the way that society is structured has changed as West Africa’s developed: People are in contact with more other people. It could be that control efforts or the behavioral response are just different. My model isn’t detailed enough to say exactly which one.” It is detailed enough to raise the panic level, though.
And the UN is scrambling:
Acting on the initiative of the Obama administration, the 15-nation U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution [last] week declaring the Ebola virus a threat to international peace and security, and urging the U.N.’s member states to rally financial, political, and medical support to contain the plague. The resolution was co-sponsored by 131 countries, the largest official show of international support for a Security Council resolution in history, according to the United States.
“This is likely the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations and its agencies have ever faced,” Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, warned the council this week. “None of us experienced in containing outbreaks has ever seen, in our lifetimes, an emergency on this scale, with the degree of suffering, and with this magnitude of cascading consequences.”
Benjamin Hale shudders:
The most striking thing about the virus is the way in which it propagates. True, through bodily fluids, but to suggest as much is to ignore the conditions under which bodily contact occurs. Instead, the mechanism Ebola exploits is far more insidious. This virus preys on care and love, piggybacking on the deepest, most distinctively human virtues. Affected parties are almost all medical professionals and family members, snared by Ebola while in the business of caring for their fellow humans. More strikingly, 75 percent of Ebola victims are women, people who do much of the care work throughout Africa and the rest of the world. In short, Ebola parasitizes our humanity.
(Photo: Victor Fayiah, 40, and his wife Comfort Fayiah, 32, are seated on a mattress on the floor of a room with their twin girls, Faith and Mercy, discussing their ordeal in Monrovia, Liberia on September 19, 2014. Comfort went into labor and delivered the girls on the ground in the yard of her church assisted by a local medic and a church mother because she could not get medical care; most hospitals and clinics were closed for non-Ebola treatment. The closed facilities are an attempt to protect medical staff and other patients from Ebola. By Michel du Cille/The Washington Post via Getty Images)