How to Contain and Control the Ebola Outbreak

Friday, August 08, 2014

A view of gloves and boots used by medical staff, drying in the sun, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. (SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty)

Liberia, Guinea,  and Sierra Leone have been trying since March to stop what has become the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded—as of August 6, 932 people have died from the disease and more than 1,700 people have been sickened. There have been cases in Nigeria and two Americans who came down with the disease while treating patients in West Africa are being treated in Atlanta. For this week’s Please Explain, W. Ian Lipkin, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, talks about the Ebola outbreak and how other infectious diseases outbreaks are contained and halted.


W. Ian Lipkin

Comments [13]

tom LI

Joanne - no, no, no!!! Anyone can own the patents on any virus, germ, etc. As well as human DNA,,,any one, like a doctor can own a patent on your DNA ! Look it up, there's been a few stories about this in the last year alone...medical research firms owning the DNA of various people who had samples taken of their diseased organs, flesh etc..

Aug. 08 2014 02:07 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Very funny about CNN.
It doesn't sound like it spreads easily, but it seems like with contact it spreads easily: one doctor got it by touching the hand of an infected person (got it through the skin), and died.

Aug. 08 2014 02:04 PM
Lisa from brighton beach

Dr.Lipkin, with all due respect, can you please explain what you meant when you said that American researchers/citizens are better equipped than Ebola victims in Africa to decide whether or not they want to assume the risks involved with experimental treatments? Please tell me I did not understand you correctly.

Aug. 08 2014 02:03 PM
tom LI

Oh right...containment...that makes me feel better...that the diseased patient was brought into the US in containment...because well...that can't go wrong. What great plot for a book, movie..."What? The power went out and the air system had a glitch...reversing its blowers...uh, better call the president!"

Medical scientists, the Kings of hubris.

Aug. 08 2014 02:00 PM
CR from Manhattan

I don't care what anyone says about the safety of the facilities, if my kid was supposed to start college as a freshman at Emory in September, he wouldn't be going & Emory would be getting him into another school of his choice. They have a responsibility to their students, faculty and their community.

Aug. 08 2014 01:56 PM
Joanne from NJ

I read that the US government owned patents to several strains of Ebola. Does that mean that they created the virus?

Aug. 08 2014 01:55 PM

The recent outbreaks of Mening B on some college campuses pointed out that the US had no licensed vaccine while one is licensed in Europe and other countries around the world, and another candidate has been slowly reviewed by the FDA until the campus outbreaks, when it suddenly obtained "fast track" status.

How do we stop the crisis reaction to known pathogens and develop them rationally and have them available in a timely fashion?

Aug. 08 2014 01:53 PM
Amy from Manhattan (medical editor)

Just so people don't get the wrong impression, it sounds scary, but "superinfection" doesn't mean one that's extra severe or deadly--it just means an infection someone gets on top of another one they already have.

Aug. 08 2014 01:52 PM
Amy from Manhattan

But remember, some of those possibly pandemic diseases that are mild for most people can be severe or lethal in people with compromised immune systems--including cytomegalovirus, which Dr. Lipkin mentioned.

Aug. 08 2014 01:46 PM
Connie from nj

Bats are not rodents--they are of the order Chiroptera. According to Wikipedia, "Bats are the second largest order of mammals (after the rodents), representing about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide". Also, "Bats are present throughout most of the world, performing vital ecological roles of pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds. Bats are important, as they consume insect pests"

Aug. 08 2014 01:40 PM

Does the current laxity with the CDC shipping viable anthrax and pathogenic H5N1 influenza strains concern you?

Aug. 08 2014 01:40 PM
pliny from soho

a couple of years back there were reports
of bush meat being sold on Staten Island
apparently there are west African communities and markets there
how they get it here they did not say

Aug. 08 2014 01:37 PM
Tisha from NJ

I'm confused. They keep saying Ebola can't be spread through coughing, just direct contact with fluids. But doesn't coughing spread salliva particles into the air and if someone were to inhale that wouldn't that constitute direct contact with fluids???

Aug. 08 2014 01:29 PM

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