Tuesday, August 13, 2019

"Outbreak" on PBS Frontline: a history of the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (now it is in Congo)

Tuesday night, Aug. 13, PBS Frontline aired “Outbreak”, a documentary about the Ebola outbreak in 2014 in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The main link is here  It is directed by Dan Edge.

The documentary starts with a scene where some children find a hollow tree with bats, in Guinea, around Christmas 2013.

Soon the children are becoming ill.  Movement of people spreads the disease (which is transmitted by blood and bodily fluids, but much more easily than STD’s) down to Monrovia Liberia and to eastern Sierra Leone, especially when some people cross the border illegally.

In the early months some people believe Ebola is a hoax.

It takes until March before the governments figure out what is happening.

Doctors Without Borders sets up field hospitals, the largest one in Monrovia. UN had to ask for considerable help in getting medical and military personnel from the Obama administration and Europe to help and working on this was personally very risky.

But there was real controversy on where to deploy resources and money, and how to prevent random spread in the rest of Africa.  Some people were sent back to the US and one died of Ebola and another got in trouble to violating a quarantine in NYC.

The epidemic begins to abate when the families stop trying to take care of the sick and allow the weakest to die, which sounds horrid but it is the only way for the rest of the families to survive.

Jack Andraka, from Stanford University, is a Truman scholar working on Ebola in the summers of 2018 and 2019, as explained in this link

See also PBS film “Survivors” writeup
There was a film called “Outbreak” in 1995 about a virus brought to California from Africa.
Wikipedia: By mifl68 - Freetown from Fourah Bay College, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30150177

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