Integrated Approaches to Pathogen Control in Outbreak Settings – What Can We Learn From Ebola?
Christopher N. Mores, Louisiana State University
Since 2014, the outbreak of Ebola virus (EVD) in West Africa has infected over 27,000 people and killed almost half of those. Despite continued efforts by governmental, volunteer and NGO organizations, the epidemic has still not been extinguished. Controlling EVD transmission is a complex problem involving careful consideration of local customs, biosafety and containment, compassionate counseling and education, and scientific investigation of the virus and transmission system components. In addition, there have been predictions that outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as EVD will increase with climate change, urbanization and land-use redistribution. If we are to use this event as learning experience, we need an interdisciplinary approach involving clinical and basic sciences, emergency preparedness and biohazard training, and communication and behavior change specialists. Critical to this is the installation of better infrastructure not only to improve patient care and outcomes, but also to encourage and facilitate the collection of clinical, epidemiological, and scientific data streams. Here I discuss my experiences in Sierra Leone working with an NGO as a cross-discipline expert where I oversaw the development, dissemination and training of biosafety/containment protocols; the surveillance for factors contributing to point-of-care transmission events; the collection of epidemiological, clinical, and basic science data, and the role of therapeutics and vaccine candidates in the pipeline for outbreak mitigation. The goal is to provide a framework for a broad approach to scientific investigation and response future outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases.