|[August 18, 2014]
Global Ebola Pandemic Unlikely, Say Catastrophe Risk Management Experts
NEWARK, Calif. --(Business Wire)--
According to RMS,
the world's leading catastrophe risk management firm, the current Ebola
outbreak is the largest in history and a serious concern for the West
African region due to a confluence of circumstances, including the
pathogen's virulence and transmissibility as well as societal and
environmental factors, but it is unlikely to spread beyond the region
and become a global pandemic.
"Any emerging disease, especially one that is highly transmissible,
poses a great risk and has the most potential to become a global
pandemic because there are no vaccines or treatments available," said
Mary Chang, medical research analyst and pandemic expert at RMS. "The
current strain of Ebola is quite deadly but not particularly
transmissible in comparison to other infectious diseases. Societal and
environmental factors in West Africa have created unique circumstances
for the disease to spread quickly, but infection-control measures and
medical practices outside of the region make it unlikely to pose a
global pandemic threat."
RMS experts have identified contributing factors to the spread of Ebola
in West Africa, as well as reasons a global pandemic is unlikely:
Virulence: The current Ebola outbreak causes death in 55
percent of those infected. Some Ebola outbreaks have had a mortality
rate up to 90 percent. For comparison, the mortality rate for bubonic
plague typically ranges from 25 to 60 percent, while flu is fatal in
less than 0.1 percent of cases.
Transmissibility: It is unusual for a disease to be both highly
virulent and highly transmissible, as typically such diseases kil
those infected before there is time to transmit the infection to
someone else. Ebola has a relatively low transmissibility rate than
other infectious diseases as it is only transmitted via direct contact
with bodily fluids. However, transmissibility can be increased in some
regions due to cultural customs. For example, traditional burial
practices in which families wash the deceased can expose additional
people to the virus.
Medical access: Lack of access to medical treatment and
infection-control measures in areas currently affected has contributed
to the disease's spread. However, the risk of a global pandemic is low
due to standard public health and infection control practices in place
in many countries globally.
Infection-control measures: Ebola can only be transmitted via
direct contact with bodily fluids, especially blood, which means that
caregivers are the primary people who might be exposed to the virus.
In many countries including the U.S., the general practice is to treat
all blood as potential sources of infection, due to HIV and other
blood-borne diseases. In quarantine situations, such as those being
used with the American Ebola cases in Atlanta, the likelihood of
transmission from a single person is miniscule.
Availability of medical treatments: There is no specific
therapy or drug available for Ebola, which is often the case for new
or emerging diseases. Ebola outbreaks occur sporadically and are
caused by different virus strains, making vaccine development more
difficult. Treatment usually consists of supportive care, such as
management of blood pressure, oxygen and fluid levels. With the
exception of experimental treatments, there are no pharmaceutical
interventions available for Ebola, and access to healthcare varies
substantially by region or population. Experimental Ebola drugs are
not applicable to large populations at this time.
Non-medical intervention methods: Various countries in Africa
have begun to implement non-medical intervention methods, including
quarantines, school closures and travel restrictions, in hopes of
stopping the spread of Ebola. These types of countermeasures can limit
disease transmission but are often difficult to time or enforce
properly. Ebola can have an incubation period of anywhere from two to
Experts on global pandemics and catastrophe risk management are
available for comment by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional analysis is available on the RMS
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Learn more at www.rms.com�and
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