While not a threat here (yet), the current outbreak of Ebola may stir memories of what happened last time and the threat it could be to the world if it escapes it’s current boundaries. Are we prepared for such a life and habit changing event in our society. The ability to almost without risk touch others in passing, to sneeze or cough in a crowded room, to shake hands, to hug a friend, to kiss someone.would disappear very quickly, we would be hesitant to touch anyone or anything.
A brave person currently working as an aid worker in the Congo relates some of this life changing behaviour. It also acts as a warning that no matter how far away it might seem the risk of spread is very real and we need to act to help these places so that the risk is minimised to the greatest possible extent. It isn’t a situation of it being just them over there, it is about all of us here on planet earth.
I was in China through the SARS ‘epidemic’ and know how systems and process can change quickly to respond to a potential health threat. We were also ‘exposed’ to processes to protect us from any unforeseen epidemic (we were given a pack with cloth medical face masks, thermometer, disinfectants [inc. vinegar - maybe that one for the online hack thread as our office was sprayed with vinegar mist during lunch breaks when the offices were vacated], cleaning clothes etc). Major transport hubs (plane, train and bus) had infrared cameras installed where all arriving and departing passengers had to proceed in an orderly line to see if they had a fever.
Anyway, one thing which is recognised is the sanitation and living standard in developing countries are quite different to that in developed countries…and this often means the likely spread of an emerging disease in developing countries is a greater risk. Notwithstanding this, the greater the life and greater the spread of a disease, the more opportunity there is for the pathogen to mutate and become more virulent/infectious.
Smart Traveller is also a good website to review and also register with if one is planning to travel…and it is strongly recommended if one is planning to travel to (central) Africa.