Many have decried the international response as deplorably slow. As a result, the consequences are jarring. The biggest lament is the obvious and horrific death toll. Along with a sick, dying and orphaned population, the crippling fear of being infected has rippling consequences on the affected countries and beyond.
Now that Ebola is here, it has captured the attention it arguably deserved from us long ago. The latest news is that the patient first diagnosed in the U.S. is in critical condition, and receiving experimental therapy. Lapses in our public health system have been acknowledged, and a scramble to contain the damage, and prevent spread, are playing out as we look on, and worry.
Polls indicate that Americans consider emerging infectious diseases to be a significant public health priority. Although the public's concerns about AIDS, Ebola and other potential epidemics decreased slightly from 1998 to 2004, a majority of 55% still considered this threat critical, while an additional 34% considered it important.
There is certainly no basis for either fear of, or opposition to, the on-going treatment of an infected American doctor in Atlanta. We may instead all be thankful that in return for the courageous service he was providing in Liberia, Dr. Brantly is now receiving an American standard of medical care himself.