Ebola: Crisis? What Crisis?

As we have seen in the news, there is a new deadly super-infection claiming hundreds of lives in West Africa. Ebola certainly is a severe disease with its high death rates and perceived high infection rate, there is little surprise that with news reaching us that Liberia is shutting down its schools and Sierra Leone's top Doctor has succumbed to the disease that there is a lot of concern about the impact on us with regards to Ebola. There are 2 facets to the Ebola epidemic spreading to the UK, these are the conditions it needs to get to the UK and the UK's health infrastructure's capacity to deal with it and it is these factors which I will examine to suggest an Ebola pandemic isn't likely.


Firstly we must consider Ebola's conditions for reaching the UK. It is clear that the virus is limited to peripheral rural regions in poor West African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Now the demographic of these areas is of stereotypical rural poverty, subsistence farmers with little means to travel to the capital city, let alone across to the United Kingdom and the like. This already reduces the likelihood of the infection reaching the UK. In addition to this the only people who travel to the UK from these countries are professionals such as Doctors or international businessmen, again these people would most likely to be based in the capital cities of these countries and would hardly be going into the infected zones therefore making the spread of infection unlikely. It must also be noted that with countries now accepting the volatile nature of the illness, the closure of borders and the quarantines are in effect, the infection is becoming manageable and consequently the risk of further infection is unlikely in the United Kingdom.


Secondly, with the news that someone who contracted Ebola entered the United Kingdom, we automatically panicked about the full impact of this disease. It was evident however that upon entering the UK the individual was put in complete isolation and with the UK’s vast medical resources had specialist and pioneering treatment to combat the infection. The results of this treatment were successful and he is making a full recovery, so in fact the UK’s infrastructure is such that it can treat Ebola successfully and consequently making a full Ebola pandemic unlikely. It must also be noted that the UK, being an island with very strong border controls will prevent Ebola infections purely because the few who will have it will most likely as noted previously will be medical professionals or at least well educated nationals who will seek treatment and therefore, due to the complicated nature of passing Ebola will minimise infection.


My conclusions from this, whilst I feel that Ebola is a threat and needs to be monitored heavily, it is a peripheral threat due to the unique nature as with it not being airborne it is unlikely to cause widespread infections. Added to this the world leading UK health infrastructure has coped successfully already with an outbreak and will continue to do so again. Although I risk sounding like Michael Fish, I can assure any worried readers that Ebola will not become a worldwide deadly pandemic.