The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is without a doubt one of the deadliest epidemics we've had in recent times, comparable to tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, SARS or MERS-COV outbreaks. However, what makes it very scary, especially for a huge country like India is the fact that the current situation in India would lead to an extremely dangerous situation, if the disease did come to our shores. While there might be a random social media share claiming the virus has come to India, there's no reason to panic yet. It's in some way a situation similar to a drug-resistant TB scare which gripped Mumbai a couple of years ago. Here are five reasons why ebola in India is a very scary scenario:
High rate of spread
The virus seems to spread very quickly from one human to another and it can spread through body fluids like blood, saliva, stool, urine, sweat, etc. This makes it extremely dangerous in a densely populated country like ours where it's easy to catch the virus while travelling, in offices or in any other public area. The disease can also spread through soiled clothing, bed linen or used needles.
According to the WHO, EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) outbreaks have a fatality rate of 90%. Currently, there is no licensed treatment or vaccine for the disease, either for humans or animals. The only way to treat patients is to place them in ICUs and that too is very dangerous for healthcare workers or anyone coming in contact with the victims.
No natural immunity
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Unlike the African countries where ebola outbreaks have occurred before, the disease if it arrives is completely new in India which means that we have no natural immunity against the virus. Our internal body system has never experienced anything like the ebola virus and won't know how to fight it.
Lack of healthcare services
Healthcare services in our country are abysmal to say the least. The doctor-patient ratio is skewed beyond belief; most rural areas have no access to healthcare services, many can't afford quality healthcare and around 2.1 million deaths per year are avoidable. So imagine the damage a completely unknown, non-indigenous virus could do to our lands. (Read: What ails India's healthcare system)
Huge, vulnerable population
India is the second-most populated country in the world, where many people don't have basic access to healthcare services. People live together in huge masses, in cities; public transport is cramped beyond belief. Another potential epidemic, HIV/AIDS, which can spread through unprotected sex, intravenous drug use or blood transfusions never, became a huge problem in India because apparently as a nation, we don't sleep around that much or use intravenous drugs. The ebola virus on the other hand can spread through saliva and sweat (HIV can't) which makes it that much more worrying. (Read: Ebola virus causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention)