Declared one of the most dangerous viruses ever to have been uncovered, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and can spread through human-to-human interaction. There is as yet no-licensed vaccine or treatment proven to neutralize the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are said to be currently under development. The average case fatality rate is around 50%.

Symptoms start displaying anywhere between two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, muscle pain and headaches. Typically, vomiting, diarrhea and rashes follow, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys. Around this time, affected people may begin to bleed both internally and externally. The virus doesn’t spread through the air via coughs or sneezes, it spreads through frequent contact with bodily fluids and can be spread only by someone who is already symptomatic.

The current outbreak in West Africa, (first cases noted in March 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976… According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been more deaths (3091) from this outbreak than all others previous ones combined (1589).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Tuesday October 30, that a patient was diagnosed with Ebola in the United States for the first time; before Ebola patients were only treated in the U.S. after being diagnosed elsewhere. The unnamed man, a Liberian national visiting relatives in America, was travelling from Liberia. When he arrived in the U.S on 20th September, he did not show any symptoms. The patient developed symptoms four days later, and subsequently sought treatment by the 26th. On September 28th, the patient was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, which announced on Monday that one of its patients was being tested for Ebola.

We can safely assume that not many in Pakistan are aware of the virus’s existence. Developed nations are well-capable of handling such outbreaks in case they occur, but for a developing country like ours where majority of the population doesn’t even have access to basic healthcare… an Ebola outbreak would be Apocalyptic. Our government must remain vigilant and spread awareness about this virus amongst its citizens, especially those travelling to and from affected regions.

Upon returning from a trip to Kenya, a member of The Karachiite team was held in quarantine at Jinnah International Airport Karachi, for not possessing the required vaccination documentation. He spent enough time there for a doctor at the facility to reveal our country’s sad state of affairs. ‘Sir you are unlucky to have landed in Karachi. Had you landed in Lahore or Islamabad, since there is no quarantine facility you would have just walked free’.

This tells us that if one were to contract a serious illness abroad, let alone a deadly disease, and land at one of these ill-equipped airports (including the one at our nation’s capital), there would be nothing to stop a countrywide epidemic.