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Operation United Assistance - Our Challenge Ahead - The Ebola Pandemic

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Remember the 1990's movie "Outbreak"?

 

 


Play the Trailer

 

The theme of the movie was pretty scary. To even consider that a small animal could have wreaked such havoc on the human race, and then add in the G Factor (Government).  But it was just a movie, right? Now, some are going to say that this article is from a fear-based perception, and that to even compare a work of fiction from the 90's to today's outbreak of an African born Virus is irresponsible. Then there are those who will deny that the outbreak of Ebola in Africa even exists, and others that will claim that the outbreak is a conspiracy by the Zionist Financial Complex to fill their pockets. But what the hell. I have never been one who is concerned with criticism or ridicule.

So here we go!

Today, more people are aware of the deadly Ebola virus because of the internet and the various forms of social media. The virus didn’t just suddenly appear though, and has, in fact, been thriving on our planet earth for ages. It reportedly killed one fourth of the world’s gorilla population before it actually infected humans, particularly those living near tropical rainforests. The horrifying disease emerged in the year 1976 among the African population and has been infecting the human race periodically since then.

1976: According to the WHO, there were two outbreaks that occurred simultaneously in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) in the year 1976. Records indicate that the first person acquiring Ebola infection was from Yambuku, Zaire on September 1, 1976. Within the first few weeks, 17 other cases emerged, and the doctors declared that it was an unknown disease. A Belgian nurse who got infected was moved to Kinshasa for treatment, but unfortunately the virus spread to 11 other healthcare workers there. On October 13, 1976 the virus was finally isolated. By then, the death toll had touched 280 in Zaire and 151 in Sudan.

1979: In the year 1977, there was a single reported case of Ebola in Sudan. Again in 1979, 34 people in Sudan became infected and 22 were killed. The outbreak had occurred in the same areas of Sudan.

1994: The outbreak occurred in Gabon, where gold-mining camps were located deep in the rain forest. It infected 52 people, killing 31 of them.

 

1995: There was again a major outbreak after several years. It affected 315 people from Zaire, killing 250. The fatality rate was highest (81%) after the first outbreak in 1976.  Apparently, the virus was spread through an infected individual working in forest areas. From there it was passed on to neighbors, family members and healthcare workers.

2000-2001: The outbreak occurred for the first time in Uganda in the districts of Gulu, Masindi, and Mbarara. The virus infected 425 people, killing 224. This was followed by outbreaks in Gabon and Zaire in 2001 and 2002.

2007-2008:  A new strain of Ebola had emerged, infecting 149 people in Bundibugyo District of western Uganda. This new strain was called Bundibugyo virus. In 2008, 6 people working on a pig farm developed antibodies against another strain of Ebola (Reston virus).

March 2014-till present: Between 2009 and 2013, there were few cases being reported in Uganda and Zaire. This was a crucial period in the Ebola timeline, as rapid diagnostic testing for Ebola was provided by the new CDC Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Laboratory installed at the Uganda Viral Research Institute (UVRI).


The current, on-going Ebola outbreak in West African countries is reported to have begun in Guinea in December 2013, where a 2-year-old child and his family members acquired the infection. The virus, after causing havoc in the region, spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The WHO declared it as the most severe and deadliest outbreak until now. Ebola outbreak 2014 was officially announced as a public international health emergency on August 8, 2014.

“There is a theoretical risk that may be very low: we simply don’t know that Ebola could become easier to spread through genetic mutation. That risk may be very low, but it’s probably not zero.  The longer it spreads, the higher the risk.”

“In theory it’s not hard to stop Ebola. We know what to do. Find patients quickly. Isolate them effectively and promptly. Treat them. Make sure their contacts are traced and tracked for 21 days. If they develop fever, do the same thing, and make sure they’re tested and treated. Make sure health care is safe and that burial practices are safe. The challenge is not those efforts, it’s doing them consistently at the scale that we need.”

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (The CDC Has Patent on Ebola - Click Here to view) gave a lengthy press conference immediately after returning to the US from a visit to the Ebola zone. Frieden has shown in the past that he knows how to be outspoken in a very strategic way; yet even so, the urgency of his language, and his call for an immediate, comprehensive global response was striking.

“Despite tremendous efforts from the U.S. Government, from CDC and from within countries, the number of cases continues to increase and is now increasing rapidly. I’m afraid over the next few weeks, those numbers are likely to increase further and significantly.  There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down, but that window is closing. We need action now to scale up the response. We know how to stop Ebola. The challenge is to scale it up to the massive levels needed to stop this outbreak.”

“The number of cases is increasing so quickly that for every day’s delay, it becomes that much harder to stop it. There are three key things that we need. The first is more resources. This is going to take a lot to confront. The second is technical experts in health care and management to help in country. And the third is a global coordinated unified approach, because this is not just a program for West Africa... It’s not just a problem for Africa. It’s a problem for the world, and the world needs to respond.”

Indeed scientists offer even more news.  

What is not being said publicly, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters, and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time.

There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night. The longer Ebola is left unchecked, the greater the possibility of both global spreading and mutation. 

So there is the possibility that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to mega-cities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person, yet to become ill, travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly, but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.

If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.

The Ebola epidemic in Africa has continued to expand since I last wrote about it (PANDEMIC), and as of a week ago, has accounted for more than 4,200 cases and 2,200 deaths in five countries: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. That is extraordinary: Since the virus was discovered, no Ebola outbreak's toll had risen above several hundred cases. This now truly is a type of epidemic that the world has never seen before. The White House took notice.

Enter Operation United Assistance

As President Obama framed the ongoing Ebola epidemic in western Africa as a potential threat to global security, a two-star Army general and his staff were already on the ground in Liberia, preparing for a mission that is expected to include about 3,000 service members and has no end in sight. Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the commander of U.S. Army Africa, will coordinate the response, Operation United Assistance, from Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. It will require an “air bridge” to get health workers and medical supplies to areas that are affected, and a staging area in Senegal to distribute personnel and aid on the ground more quickly, Obama said. “If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” Obama said. “So this is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security — it’s a potential threat to global security if these countries break down, if their economies break down, if people panic. That has profound effects on all of us, even if we are not directly contracting the disease.”

Defense Department personnel involved are likely to include the following:

Ebola virus research is conducted in maximum containment Biosafety Level 4, or BSL-4, laboratories, where investigators wear positive-pressure suits and breathe filtered air as they work.

Medical personnel
The new operation will need medical personnel who are capable of “supporting health care provider training,” the defense official said, meaning they will train local medical personnel to treat Ebola patients without providing direct care themselves. Obama said a new training site will prepare thousands of health works to “effectively and safely care for more patients.”

Organizations like the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases have investigated Ebola for years, and will likely have a hand in the response. The institute, based at Fort Deitrick, Md., already has sent several of its experts to Africa this year, officials said. It has worked in the region since 2006, when it investigated an outbreak of another disease, Lassa fever, in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Researchers with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency also have tracked Ebola. They had a hand in developing the experimental ZMapp Ebola treatment that first received widespread attention in August, after
two American health workers in Africa received it.

Engineers to construct “Ebola Treatment Units”
The U.S. military has a broad, multi-service force of engineers who are trained to build facilities quickly. As The Post reported Tuesday, they will be called on to set up 17 treatment centers in Liberia,
each with 100 beds.

Transportation personnel to support an “intermediate staging base”
Obama alluded to this by referencing an “air bridge.” He did not say where the staging area in Senegal will be, but the country’s capital, Dakar, is about 1,000 miles from Monrovia, where U.S. operations
will be coordinated. Moving equipment around will likely require both planes and helicopters, along with a fleet of vehicles and the personnel to operate them all.

“Our forces are going to bring their expertise in command and control, in logistics, in engineering,” Obama said. “And our Department of Defense is better at that, our Armed Services are better at that than
any organization on Earth.”

Administrators in Monrovia to oversee it all
Any large military operation has a central headquarters. In this one, Williams will work from a joint operations center in Monrovia.

To coordinate the response, the general will likely be assisted by a staff with dozens, if not hundreds, of personnel. They’ll be called upon to do everything from tracking vehicles as they come and go to
making sure there is enough food, water and supplies on hand.

But a new twist to the operation has evolved. 

Today (9/18/14), Officials in Guinea searching for a team of health workers and journalists who went missing yesterday while trying to raise awareness of Ebola have found several bodies.

A spokesman for Guinea's government said the bodies included those of three journalists on the team. The team of six went missing after being attacked on Tuesday in a village near the southern city of Nzerekore. Meanwhile, President Francois Hollande says France is setting up a military hospital in Guinea as
part of its contribution to tackle the disease. More than 2,600 people have now died from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Last month, riots erupted in the area of Guinea where the health team was murdered - near where the outbreak was first recorded - after rumors that medics who were disinfecting a market were contaminating
people. The three doctors and three journalists went missing on Tuesday 17 September 2014, after residents in the village of Wome pelted them with stones as they visited the village. One of the journalists
managed to escape and told reporters that she could hear the villagers looking for them while she was hiding. The governor of Nzerekore told the BBC that the group was being held captive, although it remains unclear why. He said the eight bodies found included those of three journalists, but it is unclear who the other victims are.

A government delegation including the health minister and the communications minister had been dispatched to the region, but they were unable to reach the village by road because a main bridge had been blocked.

There have been many reports of people in the region saying they do not believe Ebola exists, or refusing to co-operate with health authorities, fearing that a diagnosis means certain death and possibly annihilation of their village and inhabitants.

So added to the mix for Operation United Assistance is a larger than planned security force.

But who are the United Assistance Military personnel and where will they come form? 

To date units tasked with the operation have not been identified, however the need for adequately trained professionals will most likely fall to units from the Joint Task Force Civilian Support or JTFCS, 

Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS) is a subordinate command of United States Northern Command headquartered at Fort Eustis. Its mission is to provide command and control for Department of Defense forces deployed in support of the National Response Plan, specifically, managing the consequences of a domestic chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) situation. These DoD forces consist of discrete units of specialized consequence management troops from all services called DOD CBRN Response Forces (DCRF). JTF-CS was created in 1999 to fulfill the Congressional mandate in the 1998 Nunn-Lugar-Domenici legislation for the Secretary of Defense to develop and enhance the federal government's capability to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks. 

They are most likely the best trained troops for the mission, however there is one catch: Most are National Guard and are tasked with operations within the U.S. But rest assured that these men and women have the training, equipment and experience to respond rapidly to any biological, nuclear, or chemical threat.

Now we have violence which has broken out in Liberia and other nations. They are scared!


One important point to consider in the President's decision to mobilize these DoD forces to the African arena, is their relative position to the newly announced war against ISIL and a possible ready response to an NBC (Nuclear-Biological-Chemical) attack on our troops.

As we rely on this joint effort to curb the spread of the deadly Ebola disease, we must keep in the back of our minds the possibility as stated above, that the virus may mutate. If this virus mutates and travels to the United States, a new plan is placed into effect. The contingency for this possible but improbable scenario is outlined in the National Response Plan (NRP). The National Response Plan (NRP) was a United States national plan to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. It came into effect in December 2004,[1] and was superseded by FEMA's National Response Framework on March 22, 2008.  

And that's a whole new story.

 *History and statistics supplied by thehealthsite.com

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