US should take lead in fight against Ebola

We Americans have been very lucky in many ways. One of them involves the truly horrific disease Ebola.

Few people in this country have given Ebola much thought since the severe outbreak in Africa during 2014-16. It killed more than 11,300 people, primarily in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Before public health officials declared that outbreak contained, the disease had spread to other African nations, some in Europe and the United States. Here, 11 people came down with Ebola. Despite receiving the best medical care possible, two of them died.

We were lucky efforts to keep the viral disease out of this country were successful, for the most part.

But now, Ebola is making a comeback in Congo. At last count, 854 people there had contracted the disease. Of that number, 578 have perished.

Battling Ebola on its home turf in Africa presents various challenges. They include a dearth of decent health care facilities. Accounts of many hospitals there make it clear that, if in the United States, they would be closed down by the government. But African doctors and nurses, often with help from groups such as Doctors Without Borders, do the best they can.

A few days ago, health care workers in Congo suffered a setback when a heavily armed group attacked an Ebola clinic. A police officer was killed and some health care workers were wounded before the assault was turned back. It was not the first.

Officials from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been to the outbreak area, vowing — again — to stamp out Ebola. That seems unlikely. Nature, even in its most unpleasant aspects, is highly resistant to human efforts.

Still, we have to try — and the United States should be taking a lead role. If Ebola is not at least contained, the threat of it spreading to other parts of the world is enormous. We Americans may not be so lucky the next time that happens.


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