This is the first in an irregular update on efforts to engage Ebola’s center-of-gravity. As noted previously, I am concerned US media is not giving sufficient attention to fighting this disease where it matters most for all of us.
If the rate of transmission can be suppressed at the source, then the risk to the United States will be substantially mitigated. If the rate of transmission in West Africa cannot be significantly reversed in the next 60-to-90 days some epidemiologists are concerned Ebola will establish itself well outside it’s historically native range.
Data collection in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia — the current outbreak’s epicenter — is far from state-of-the-art. But following is the best information now available from local health agencies as aggregated by the World Health Organization:
These numbers will get worse — probably much worse — before they get better. Current projections suggest 10,000 new cases per week by December.
Ebola survivors who have developed an immunity to the disease are now involved in caring for other patients and may be the source of life-saving blood transfusions.
Population behaviors, such as burial practices, are adapting to the risk.
Several new treatment centers are under construction. Early identification, isolation, and effective treatment of those with Ebola will cut transmission rates and improve survival rates. This week US military operations to expand local capacity got seriously underway. (Further details)
There will, almost certainly, be more cases of Ebola presenting in the United States. The best way to reduce vulnerability is to eliminate the threat at its source.
Editorial Note: It has long been my personal opinion that “homeland security” is most meaningful when it offers its legacy professions, policy-makers, and the public a strategically integrated angle on risk. The risk environment is usually complicated, often complex and even chaotic. There are important roles for an array of specializations, threat-specific strategies, operational expertise, and tactical competence. Homeland security will be more successful to the extent it is well-informed of these related domains. But homeland security delivers added-value when it can stitch together these diverse elements into a coherent — ideally mutually amplifying — whole. Strategy, at least in my use of the term, is especially concerned with how risks can be intentionally engaged in a manner that deploys the threat against itself and reduces self-generated vulnerabilities.
What is the most effective strategy for the risk of Ebola?