EBOLA – THIS IS NOT A JOKE

I started this blog with the idea of looking at sports and medicine and life and the intrinsic relationship that links these three elements. In other words, I wanted to discuss other relevant medical topics. With this in mind, it’s absolutely imperative that I address the latest medical crisis, the Ebola outbreak.It’s vital to understand that this is not just an African problem. I say that because I can remember as a medical student, when HIV first came to prominence, many people thought it was a problem limited to the Gay community and most heterosexuals felt safe and that it was not their problem. As we all know now, this was not the case. The same is true of the Ebola virus. This is not a problem that we can sweep under the rug or confine to certain part of the world – this is a global crisis and the sooner we recognise that the better.The Ebola viral disease is severe and is reported to be 90% fatal in humans. It first appeared in the mid-1970s in a village situated near the Ebola River from which the disease takes its name. The virus is transmitted through close contact of bodily fluids such a sweat and blood. The symptoms include fever, muscle pain and sore throat which rapidly escalate to diarrhoea, vomiting and external and internal bleeding. When you think how this virus is transmitted, you have to consider whether could it affect sporting competition, especially in contact sports such as football.The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) have both said that the risk of Ebola spreading beyond Western Africa is extremely low. In fact, Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the World Health Organisation, stated that the virus is actually difficult to transmit. But just imagine what would happen if Ebola came to the UK?  Despite what the WHO and CDC state, I don’t think this scenario is as far-fetched as it might sound – especially with air travel as common as it is. Borders don’t mean as much as they did in the past.Remember, this is not just an African problem… this is a World problem.