America has hit the panic button with Ebola.
Last night President Obama directed the US Center for Disease Control to send out rapid response SWAT teams to any hospital reporting patients displaying signs of the virus within 24 hours.
The entire system is clearly in a scramble as pictures emerge of an unidentified man with a clipboard fussing round Ebola victim Amber Vinson on her way to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
His only protection against Ebola? He’s out there in shirt-sleeves.
Such wheelspin and confusion quickly hit international markets, already reeling from pension fund and other losses . The Dow Jones fell 1.64% to 16047.88 – accelerated by a CDC statement that it was not clear how Miss Vinson had contracted Ebola.
Watch the panic snowball. Alongside Ebola, it’s the start of flu season. Up to 20% of Americans are likely to be affected, with as many as 200,000 needing hospital treatment.
And here’s the scary bit. In the first week, flu symptoms are similar to Ebola’s – fever and fatigue. Already monitored at major airports, if too many sneezes happen on transcontinental flights over the next few months, the health system could go into meltdown.
But that’s just part of it. Already the World Health Organisation put the possible death toll from Ebola at 10,000 by December. Over-reacting politicians are contributing to international dread.
Lost in today’s Ebola-surge is a side report from Ghana, neighbour to the Ivory Coast which suffered an Ebola outbreak in 1994. Eight students at the Atebubu Teachers College of Education in the Brong Ahafo have died of cholera.
And cholera is way more scary.
First, it kills within hours, not weeks. Second, it’s highly contagious. According to the World Health Organisation, there are up to 5 million cases and 120,000 deaths every year.
The difference is that it’s treatable.
But so is Ebola BEFORE it infects anyone.
Like most viruses and bacteria – cholera too – Ebola is defenceless against being oxidised. Health authorities may be swamped handling existing cases – but they can prevent more by sterilising treatment areas with hydrogen peroxide or other oxidisers before patients are admitted.
It won’t cure the patients. But it will raise the resistance threshold for medics, care workers and support staff already risking their lives.
Safer at home
It will do the same thing too at your local supermarket, eliminating germs and odours.
Except that according to President Obama, the likelihood of a widespread Ebola outbreak is “very, very low.” So don’t expect your local Tesco to go spraying the place just yet.
Better go with the paracetamol then. And hope that an effective wide-scale treatment for Ebola can be found soon.