AFRICA

The Widening Hot Zone: On the US Ebola Case

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 The BBC’s release on the case

Hi Readers,

I don’t doubt that many of you haven’t seen a news article circulating the web or a public health issue being talked about on the television. September 30, 2014 the United States has made international headlines just as West Africa did earlier this year in March. The first case of Ebola in the U.S. has been recorded and I don’t believe that the Ebola conversation will stop here.

Read further, and then offer up comments, questions or concerns. You can find the Center for Disease Control (CDC) press release here: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/s930-ebola-confirmed-case.html

Since my first post “The Hot Zone: Ebola and Studying Abroad in South Africa” published on September 16, 2014, Ebola deaths have risen from 2,300 to 3,091. That goes without mentioning the 6,574 cases of Ebola just in West Africa. Disclaimer: this information does not include the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I wholeheartedly believe that the CDC has done its absolute best in the emergency preparedness arena and given its 110 percent. The CDC has been preparing for an Ebola outbreak since early summer 2014. For instance, “1)enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases, 2)developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations, 3)providing recommendations for  healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread, 4)providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC and 5)disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners,” (“CDC and Texas Health Department Confirm First Ebola Case Diagnosed in the U.S.,” Center for Disease Control).

Although the U.S. is prepared for this public health crisis, I am more worried about how we are going to treat this patient and (the “if” factor) in the event that other cases arise. Are we equipped to manufacture an emergency supply of the ZMapp drug if more cases come about? Maybe I am just playing devil’s advocate; fortunately an academic career in ISC has conditioned me to be this way, but this is a serious concern of mine. It is obvious that our infrastructure is entirely different from West Africa, but there are a few areas that aren’t “clear as mud” to me. Offer up suggestions, thoughts, solutions, oh hell, even an answer.

I can agree to disagree, maybe, with ample amounts of convincing.

ZMapp is manufactured by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., who very recently received funding for the drug to undergo clinical trials and eventually become FDA approved. The director for Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has given the notion they are moving the facility to Texas and potentially using a second facility in North Carolina. With these changes I am anxious (sitting on the edge of my barstool) to see how quickly we can procure this therapeutic product.

Per usual, I will always refer you to the CDC website for materials, resources and information on this epidemic. If you want to talk you can reach me at Harlie.collins@gmail.com.

Penned,

Harlie

Harlie Collins is a senior at the University of Kentucky majoring in Integrated Strategic Communications with a Public Relations emphasis, minoring in Spanish.