Giroir: Is America prepared for Ebola?
The Ebola outbreak has drawn global attention to the indisputable need to prevent suffering and death from spreading further. If there is any positive aspect, it is that the virus is only transmitted by contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. In contrast, there are other, more easily transmissible infectious diseases lurking — like pandemic influenza virus. Unlike Ebola, pandemic flu can rapidly spread around the world in a matter of weeks.
The more deadly alter ego of seasonal flu, pandemic influenza, is caused by the emergence of a brand-new strain of the virus. Because humans have little to no pre-existing immunity, such a new virus will spread rapidly, infecting nearly all who encounter it. A recent example of such contagion was the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, which infected approximately 25 percent of the Earth’s population within a matter of months. It is only because of fortune, or perhaps fate, that the deaths caused by this virus were relatively low, so that worldwide mortality was approximately 500,000, instead of 50 to 100 million like the 1918 pandemic.