Contagious Disease and Its Impact on Society Term Paper

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Contagious Disease and Its Impact on Society

The movie Outbreak chronicles the fictional events of an ebola-like virus, known as Motaba, which is contracted from an African monkey which has been illegally smuggled into the United States and spreads within a town known as Cedar Creek (Petersen, 1995). Ebola, a member of the family Filoviridae, is a highly lethal virus whose infection is characterized by the onset of hemorrhagic fever (Cavendish, 2007; Groseth, Feldmann, & Strong, 2007; Preston, 2009). Among the symptoms of ebola infection are extensive hemorrhaging internally and from external orifices and severe fever, headache, and general confusion (Cavendish, 2007; Preston, 2009). Due to the high lethality of Ebola, up to 90%, and the lack of available treatments, it is classified as a biosafety level 4 agent (Cavendish, 2007; Groseth et al., 2007; Preston, 2009). The spread of Ebola, and similarly the fictional Motaba virus, occur primarily through the interpersonal contact of blood and bodily fluids (Groseth et al., 2007; Petersen, 1995; Preston, 2009).

The proximate origins of the Motaba virus in Outbreak are from the smuggled African monkey, whereas the origin of the real-life Ebola virus remains elusive (Groseth et al., 2007; Petersen, 1995; Snowden, 2008). The prevailing theory of Ebola's emergence within the human population is contraction from an infected animal host, most likely primate, although the specifics of the animal reservoir are unknown (Groseth et al., 2007; Preston, 2009; Snowden, 2008). The initial emergence of Ebola within Africa occurred during the mid-1970s in Sudan and Zaire, however the provenance is unclear (Groseth et al., 2007; Preston, 2009). Scientists have speculated that animal reservoirs, including chimpanzees, gorillas, and bats, may be sources for animal to human transmission as a result of fluid transfer, most likely from bites (Groseth et al., 2007; Preston, 2009).

Potential for Disease Spread in United States

The appearance and spread of a Level 4 contagion is a realistic concern in the modern world and within the United States. The possibility for an emergence of disease is additionally compounded by the prospect of terrorism and purposeful release of infectious agents, which itself may be facilitated by the celerity of modern travel (Preston, 2009; Snowden, 2008; Yassi, Kjellstrom, & Kok, 2001). Attempts to acquire Ebola and utilize it as a weaponized biological agent have already been made by certain terrorist groups in the past, specifically the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo group in the early 1990s (Preston, 2009). While these attempts have thus far failed, it does not preclude the possibility that terrorist groups may eventually attain Ebola or some different biological agent which could be used for the purposes of terrorism. Nor, does it prevent the possibility that the disease may spread to the United States via fortuitous means, as in the movie Outbreak (Petersen, 1995).

In the event that the Ebola virus or another biological agent emerged and spread within the United States, certain prophylactic measures could be taken to mitigate further infection. The first, and most obvious method of slowing transmission, is the quarantine of infected and potentially-infected individuals (Preston, 2009; Yassi et al., 2001). If individuals who are sick are removed from the general population, there are fewer individuals who can serve as a vector for disease spread and thus the prevalence and transmission of disease will decrease (Yassi et al., 2001). Second, public awareness and education about the disease will increase beneficial behaviors, such as avoidance of public locations with high densities of people and better hygiene and sanitary actions (Yassi et al., 2001). As a result,… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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Contagious Disease and Its Impact on Society.  (2009, November 10).  Retrieved January 22, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/contagious-disease-impact-society/3924544

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"Contagious Disease and Its Impact on Society."  Essaytown.com.  November 10, 2009.  Accessed January 22, 2020.
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