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Responding to the Ebola Epidemic – The Actions Necessary to Prevent its Global Spread

Responding to the Ebola Epidemic - The Actions Necessary to Prevent its Global Spread Homeland Security TodayResponding to the Ebola Epidemic - The Actions Necessary to Prevent its Global Spread Homeland Security TodayEnding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest challenge faced by global public health leaders in decades. It’s an extremely complex problem that requires a holistic approach to address the various factors enabling the disease to flourish and spread. Despite the challenges though, it is imperative that the epidemic be contained and defeated. Not only is it a humanitarian necessity to stop the death and suffering caused by the disease, but failure to do so risks the disease becoming endemic within the human population of West Africa – and a threat to the world.

Until now, Ebola outbreaks have been the result of human infection by an animal. Once the outbreak was contained and the transmission chain among humans broken, the virus disappeared from the human population. Another outbreak would not occur until the next crossover from the animal kingdom. If the current epidemic is allowed to continue to expand, we may reach a point where we’re no longer capable of containing the disease and breaking human-to-human transmission. And that outcome would make Ebola a ubiquitous long-term global health threat. The long incubation period of the disease, combined with the speed of air travel, means — as we’ve already seen in Texas — that the disease can show up nearly anywhere in the world at any time.

The question is, how can the epidemic be overcome? Lack of adequate health care facility infrastructure and local burial customs, combined with distrust of national governments and Western medicine are regularly identified as key causal factors for the unprecedented size and scope of the Ebola outbreak. As more global attention and resources become focused on trying to contain the epidemic, addressing these issues will be fundamental to successfully ending this epidemic and mitigating outbreaks in the future.

Read the complete report (no registration required) in the current April/May 2015 Homeland Security Today.

Anthony (Tony) C. Cowan spent more than a decade managing the design, build and accreditation of outpatient surgical centers throughout North America and Western Europe. He is now President and CEO of PRIME-CAPs LLC, a company that designs and produces turnkey capability augmentation packages for mobile and semi-permanent surge capacity solutions for catastrophic event response.


Edward (Ted) J. Cowan is a retired Naval officer who has supported catastrophic event response operations worldwide. In addition to extensive pandemic Influenza planning experience, he was one of the principle authors of the Department of Defense’s Tactical Manual for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Operations. He is currently a consultant with Hassett Willis supporting the DHS BioWatch Program.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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