UK Military Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola
By admin March 13, 2015




The Ebola virus, formerly known as the Ebola hemorrhagic fever, was first recognized during two outbreaks in 1976, one in Sudan, and the other in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The most recent outbreak was recognized in March 2014. Media sensationalism caused widespread panic about the disease, and even governments reacted by placing strict travel sanctions on travelers coming from Ebola-stricken countries. But, until yesterday, when a female military health worker stationed in Sierra-Leone tested positive for the virus, the hype seemed to have died down. So, one year in, where do we stand?

The infected healthcare worker was not the only British citizen to be exposed and subsequently infected with the virus. Five others tested negative, and a further two have tested positive for the disease, one in August 2014, and the other in December 2014, both victims were fortunate to survive the disease. However, the 4,877 people who have died out of an estimated 9,936 cases, were not so lucky. In October of 2014, the WHO reported that they believed that the estimates may be significantly incorrect, and that the actual death toll of this most recent outbreak may be closer to three times the estimate- around 15,000 deaths.

There is still hope for those who have been exposed to the virus. Recently, in Sierra Leone, a new round of drug testing has begun, and scientists remain optimistic of its effectiveness. This innovative new drug is produced by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals in Burnaby, Canada, and is made up of synthetic RNA particles that block three of Ebola’s seven genes- the genes responsible for the virus’ replication.

The drawback to this drug is its practicality. As stated by Kai Kupferschmidt at, treatments must be administered “as a 2-hour infusion every day for a week” and “patients need to be watched for 8 hours after the infusion because of worries that the drug could produce a dangerous inflammatory response.” Due to the amount of protective gear health workers have to wear in the tropical heat of the affected regions, global health researcher Trudie Lang of Oxford University says that “staff have a very narrow window, and if there are several patients that are eligible in the morning, we have to choose one randomly.”

Lack of proven, viable cures is not the only threat facing Ebola stricken countries. The WHO has said that “waning interest in Ebola could jeopardize efforts to stamp out the world’s worst recorded outbreak of the disease.” Though the numbers of new cases have waned since last year, the WHO claims that the same cannot be said of the disease itself. WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward says that “the only thing that has dropped more quickly and more steeply [than the number of new cases] is the new contributions in financing.”

With numbers of infected persons remaining fairly stable at around 100-150, Aylward says that driving this number down to zero “is going to require another round of reinvestment.” Any sort of progress in terms of battling this virus will hinge upon the willingness of governments to fund the scientists racing to find a cure for those desperately fighting for their lives.


For more information:

Thanks for sharing !

Comments are disabled.