Ebola versus SARS

Worth looking at the way we responded to SARS vs. what is happening with Ebola

SARS timeline http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_SARS_outbreak

The first cases of SARS in humans probably occurred in November 2002 but the WHO was not notified until February 2003.  Within a year, we had:

  • Identified a previously unknown pathogen
  • Obtained a complete genome sequence
  • Developed rapid PCR based diagnostic tests
  • Deployed these tests in the field
  • Tracked all known cases across three continents and several major cities

By May of 2004, a little over a year after the WHO was first notified, the epidemic was completely controlled and there have been no new cases since.  Note that SARS is a respiratory pathogen transmitted by aerosol.  It is far more contagious than Ebola and the epidemic rapidly spread to major urban centers.  From a public health perspective, SARS was an extraordinarily challenging threat and yet under 1,000 people worldwide died of SARS.

Ebola timeline http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_West_Africa_Ebola_virus_outbreak

The first case of the 2014 Ebola epidemic probably occurred in November 2013 and the WHO was notified in March of 2014.

The point is that if we devoted anything close to the resources that were deployed in containing SARS, we could shutdown the Ebola epidemic in a matter of weeks.

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