Fresh on the heels of the frightening CDC report several new suspected cases have appeared outside the current hot-zone in Africa. Most of these cases are likely to result in Malaria diagnosis or other diseases endemic to the African Continent but authorities around the world are taking every precaution possible when dealing with people entering their countries from affected areas.
A Guinean refugee has been quarantined in Switzerland shortly after entering an asylum camp. The refugee claims to have lost a family member to Ebola and was isolated at the first signs of fever. A few days ago a health worker was flown to Geneva after being bitten by a young child suffering from Ebola making this the second suspected contact this week for the European country.
A recent suspected case in Perth has been cleared after a woman who visited the West African region tested negative for the deadly virus. Australia has been vigilant in its efforts to prevent an outbreak by isolating and testing individuals exhibiting possible Ebola symptoms. Earlier this week a man was tested for Ebola and was found to have Malaria after developing flu like symptoms and fever.
Chennai, India saw a suspected case of Ebola as well when a 22 year old man was admitted to hospital after returning from Nigeria. Initial indications seem negative for the disease but the patient, who had been working in a hospital, will be placed under surveillance for 21 days in an effort to ensure his well being and allow for rapid response in the event that he tests positive.
The number of suspected cases will continue to increase in the upcoming weeks as awareness about Ebola increases. The natural and understandable fear around the deadly virus has resulted in cautious behavior by port officials around the world.
Reports of suspected and confirmed Ebola patients going missing continue to fill the news this weekend with the Business Insider reporting more escapes in Liberia and the Hindustantimes reporting a missing engineer in India who was flagged by a fever scanner while entering the country. There have already been several reports of runaways during the last few days which will without doubt raise fears among the general public.
It is important to keep in mind that many of the suspected cases are likely false alarms. Airport screening techniques cannot verify the type of infection a passenger has, only that the patient has a fever and may be ill. With the current outbreak many airports have begun to monitor their entry points more closely and are, as a precaution, isolating and testing any passengers that have a fever or other potential symptoms.
In some cases confirmed Ebola patients are refusing to cooperate with treatment protocols creating a far more terrifying situation. A confirmed Ebola patient moving around a town or city could spell disaster and as such governments are deploying teams of experts to manage local fears as well recover skeptical patients which in itself creates panic within affected areas. The image of a trained medical team in biohazard suits escorted by military personnel entering a small village or town is certainly not going to provide comfort to the local community even if the intentions are good.
In many of the current outbreak regions there is an inherent fear of western medicine fueled by the historical legacy within these regions. That, coupled with severe challenges in access to education and other communications has made it difficult for governments within the affected areas to spread information about proper management to avoid an epidemic. However in one instance, Uganda, early education had a positive effect but critics have pointed a finger at other governments for not acting soon enough.