Ebola: Lessons from Our Past

First name: 
Last name: 
Class Year: 
John Wargo
Essay Abstract: 
The largest outbreak in history, Ebola virus disease (EVD) of 2013 has sparked international fear and fascination. The environmental factors to allow humans to come into contact with this virus, the distinctive biological structure, and the overwhelmingly hellacious symptoms of the disease have gripped both scientists and the general public since the first outbreak in 1976. It is mysterious—from a scientific perspective, but also in the way it relates to social networks, habitat niches, and cultural interactions. Historical case studies are presented on the 1976 and 1979 outbreaks in Sudan, the 1994 Gabon outbreak, the 1995 Democratic Republic of Congo outbreak, and finally the Uganda outbreak in 2000. The outbreaks will be analyzed and compared on the biological, management, and environmental characteristics. These include the origin and spread of the outbreak, the existing health structures, and the national and international management. In approaching Ebola with attention to the cultural and environmental implications, we may look forward as the present Ebola outbreak evolves and critique our course of action. What are the lessons we have learned from our past and may implement for our future? The history of Ebola outbreaks illuminates new factors to consider in the precautionary and crisis management of this contemporary public health crisis.