Ebola Outbreak!

I’m sure you have heard the news – about the resent Ebola Outbreak – and, that two of the infected individuals (American physician Ken Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who were both in Liberia) have been flown back to the USA for treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently raised their emergency response to level 1, which is their highest level of emergency response. Since its start in 2003,  a level 1 has only been issued twice by the CDC; once for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009. So far, the Ebola Outbreatk has killed almost 1,000 people.

Liberia’s President has issued a State of Emergency, and Saudi Arabia has reported at least one death from the disease, which is basically an airplane ride from anywhere in the world.  Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and said that “This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history”.  The two patients being treated in the US and being given an experimental drug, called ZMapp, a not-yet proven vaccine, which is in very limited supplies.

What is quite noteworthy, is that four days prior to the announcement of the Ebola scare by the World Health Organization, agencies of the US Government were alerted about the outbreak by a “bot”, a computer program run by epidemiologists in Boston, set up specifically to mine internet news sources for such health scares.

The website, HealthMap, was developed by researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Children’s Hospital in Boston. The website is so accurate, that the Department of Defense, the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security are all subscribers to the site’s daily email alerts. Gee, I wonder if I should do the same? Now that’s a no brainer.


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