As I am writing this blog post, our United States' Center of Disease Control is holding a press conference about the first case of Ebola in Dallas, in the state of Texas.
Up to now, this was something that Americans watched in TV.
Ebola. It was far away. It happened to someone else.
Then, Americans developed it in Africa. Now, it is here, arriving in the body of an individual who arrived in the United States, from Liberia (without symptoms), on September 20. The person showed symptoms several days later, and was hospitalized. The tests have come back positive for Ebola.
Plagues are nothing new to mankind. We in developed countries like to think we are better, somehow, than the people we read about in old histories - the panic, the quarantines, the nobility fleeing cities full of dead.
Well, we are not too far from that type of behavior.
Ebola is a huge threat in Africa. It speaks not just to the health of millions of fellow humans. The Washington Post, a newspaper in our nation's capital, reported earlier today that "Ebola-stricken Liberia is descending into economic hell."
For our country? We do not know yet what will come of this. But history has a lot to teach us about epidemics.
If you are interested, here is information on some of the worst epidemics in history. The death tolls were, using a modern idiomatic expression, epic.
Ebola is only spread by exposure to body fluids from a person with the active sickness. It has a high mortality, even with medical treatment. Sick individuals must be isolated You can see how a medical system could easily be overwhelmed by massive numbers of cases. Of course, the CDC is doing what they can to prevent any such mass outbreak. They knew this day would come.
But, increasingly, we are all connected. We breathe the same air (noting that Ebola is not spread by air, but other epidemic sicknesses can be). We travel by air transport to all parts of the world in just hours. Sooner or later, a plague in one part of the world shows up in other parts.
So, there is no need to panic (yet) although I will admit that if I was living anywhere near Dallas, I would be a bit more concerned. But, this first case of Ebola in the United States is just the latest example of how we are all connected - for good or for bad. Our challenge now in the States is clear-not only to keep Ebola under control, but to keep our fear under control. To educate all medical professionals is also essential, as health care professionals can spread it. They are our front line of defense, too.
How will we rise to this challenge? That remains to be seen.
With this post, I conclude several blog challenges I entered this month. Next month? I may taper back. But, I still plan to continue my daily blog posts. This continues to be my personal challenge.