The current Ebola epidemic in West Africa is unprecedented in scale and severity. Over the course of the last 6 months, the disease has killed over 4000 people, and infected close to 10,000. What’s worse, major aid agencies and international health bodies believe that the number of cases is growing exponentially, and by the end of the year, more than 100,000 people may be dead.
In order to bring this epidemic under control, and to stop it from spreading to become a pandemic, the international community is mobilizing a vast amount of resources and manpower. Read our list below of 4 advanced technologies that are our best hope to stop Ebola:
1. Airport Temperature Scanning
One the major points which Ebola can be stopped is at airports. There, staff can check flyers for fever (a telltale sign of symptomatic Ebola) using portable temperature scanners. These sorts of devices have a history successful use, especially in 2004 to stop the spread of the deadly SARS virus.
2. Personal Protection Equipment
One of the biggest groups of people at risk from Ebola is heath care workers. Providing treatment to infected patients puts them at massive risk of themselves contracting the disease. In order to keep them alive and healthy, aid agencies have been deploying vast numbers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits, also know as ‘Hazmat’ suits, to areas with high rates of infection.
Prior to the 2014 outbreak of Ebola, ZMapp was a low-priority treatment being developed in the US. However, since the disease has continued to ravage West Africa, and started to spread abroad, ZMapp has been used with some success to help treat patients. While stocks of the experimental treatment are in short supply, its maker hopes to massively ramp up production following regulatory approval.
4. Forecast Modelling
The most important factor in stopping an outbreak, especially when resources are limited, is knowing which areas are most at risk. In order to determine this, organisations like the CDC are using massive computer systems to model the future spread of Ebola based on known facts, such as locations and infection patterns of the virus. With this data they have been able to predict the explosive growth of the case-load, and help garner an effective international response.