The Ebola outbreak in West Africa that began in December of 2013 has been on the news throughout the subsequent months inciting sympathy to those affected and fear in the minds of those who could be affected. The countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone had severe mortality effects of up to 80% mortality rate accounting to over 1,500 human deaths. On 8 August, the outbreak was formally designated as a public health emergency of international concern. In the modern times of today, unlike earlier times, containment of any infectious disease in a local setting is an extremely delicate and difficult task. An outbreak of infectious disease in one part of the world should equally be treated risky in another part of the world. With historical advents of diseases like HIV AIDS and SARS, we have seen what impact inadequate response to an outbreak can have globally. Therefore, the Ebola outbreak of West Africa is a global health issue and a grave global concern for everyone.

The Ebola virus disease, also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe disease condition caused by the Ebola virus. This virus is known to be transmitted from animals to humans. The virus spreads from one person to another through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal. These can be, coming in direct contact with blood, secretions, and organs of an infected person, handling of meat of infected animals and contact with any other bodily fluids of an infected person. People who are most likely to get infected are the close contacts, family members and health care workers attending to infected sick patients. Migratory populations are also likely to get infected and transmit the virus. The likelihood of transmission from person to person can be highly magnified by poor living conditions and unhygienic practices. Although there is no definitive treatment, symptomatic treatment in the ICUs can be carried out. Up until now, there are no preventative vaccinations available. Therefore, prevention of this disease can only be carried through safe hygienic practices like washing hands properly, drinking clean water, maintaining general hygiene and cooking meat well. For those in unaffected regions, precautionary measures include avoiding crowded places and places known to have the outbreak and visiting hospital as soon as symptoms develop.

The Ebola virus disease has not been reported in India as of now. However, thousands of Indians reside in Africa and likewise, many Africans in India. There is bound to be movement of Indians coming back to India for safety or West Africans going to their homes for various reasons. With the travel through airplanes nowadays, it is a matter of only a few hours before a virus can be transferred unknowingly from one continent to another. Therefore, the Indian government is making all precautionary measure available at all ports of entry, especially from the affected countries. India can be an easy target for Ebola outbreak due to the fact that India is a hugely densely populated country with many people living under harsh social conditions inflicted with poverty that does not guarantee basic hygiene and safe drinking water.

Therefore, it is pertinent that the Indian government spikes up all screening and precautionary measures in order to prevent Ebola virus from entering India. The Tibetans, like anyone in this globe are equally at risk for this outbreak just as the rest of the human population on this earth. However, with proper precautionary measures and awareness both on national and individual scale, we can prevent India and ourselves from this deadly disease.

For frequently asked questions on Ebola virus disease. Click here