It’s interesting that we Americans never take the time to understand what happens in other parts of the world until what’s happening winds up in our backyards.
For months, the Ebola virus has been taking lives in West Africa. Save for the group Doctors Without Borders, many have been slow on the response to the growing crisis. Even the World Health Organization admitted its slow response. President Obama ordered 3000 military personnel to West Africa (200 are there as of the beginning of this month). And West African nations, already struggling with internal issues, now have to wrestle this microbe-sized monster that can wreak such death, illness and heartache. For the most part, it was a West African problem.
Until this past week, when a Liberian man visited a Dallas (as in Texas, United States) hospital with an unwelcome traveling companion: the Ebola virus. Now remember, we already had two Ebola cases here in the US; two relief workers contracted the disease. However the two relief workers knew about their contracting the disease; were jetted here under controlled conditions; and were hospitalized at Emory in Atlanta under controlled conditions prepared for the disease. However our Liberian friend walked into a public hospital and tested positive for Ebola post-facto.
Now it gets interesting. People in Dallas are getting nervous. Although no danger reported so far, there is that nagging question, “Could it spread?” I can bet you a night on the town that people throughout this land of ours are wondering what if someone infected arrived in their town? I’ll even bet you another night on the town that someone in Europe is starting to wonder what if….?
Now what are we going to do? Are we going to seriously work with our West African fellows to contain Ebola before it spreads further; and to get first-hand experiential knowledge in dealing with the disease? Are we going to realize that thanks to modern high-speed air-travel that diseases like Ebola can reach other parts of the globe in hours? That one infected person can potentially infect others within a closed, pressurized space of an aircraft cabin which air they share for several hours? And if said infected victims manage to pass our security checkpoints and get out into the public-especially urban areas like Dallas-what will we do then?
Will we finally realize that what happens “over there” today can happen over here tomorrow?
Now, what are we going to do?