Pictured: Man Who Discovered Ebola Says He Can Sit Next To Infected Person

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The scientist who helped discover the Ebola virus has said
he would sit next to an infected patient on the London Underground and that the
outbreak in West Africa was unlikely to trigger a major global pandemic.
Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told AFP that a lack of trust in authorities in
West Africa had contributed to the world’s largest ever outbreak of the
pathogen.


The former executive director of the United Nations HIV/AIDS
programme UNAIDS said he did not believe the virus would give rise to a major
pandemic, even if an infected person flew to Europe or the US.
“Spreading in the population here, I’m not that worried
about it,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be worried to sit next to someone with
Ebola virus on the Tube as long as they don’t vomit on you or something. This
is an infection that requires very close contact.”
Piot discovered Ebola in 1976, as a 27-year-old researcher
working in Antwerp. He was sent a blood sample from a Catholic nun who had died
in what was then Zaire, and is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He later visited Yambuku village, approximately 600 miles
north of the modern-day capital city of Kinshasa, where an epidemic had gripped
the locals. The majority of infections were among women aged between 20 and 30,
centred around a pre-natal consultation clinic.
“People were devastated because in some villages, one
in 10, one in eight people could die from Ebola,” he told AFP. “I was
scared, but I was 27, so you think you are invincible.”
The virus, they discovered, was being spread through the
reuse of infected needles on pregnant women, as well as through the funeral
preparation process.
“Someone who dies is washed, the body is laid out but
you do this with bare hands. Someone who died from Ebola, that person is
covered with virus because of vomitus, diarrhea, blood,” explains Piot,
adding that the same thing was now happening in the most recent outbreak.
He said the history of Sierra Leone and Liberia, which has
seen over 224 and 130 fatalities respectively since February, was hindering
efforts to tackle the virus.
“These countries are coming out of decades of civil
war,” he said. “Liberia and Sierra Leone are now trying to
reconstruct themselves so there is a total lack of trust in authorities, and
that combined with poverty and very poor health services I think is the
explanation why we have this extensive outbreak now.”
He added that officials should test experimental vaccines on
people with the virus so that the world is prepared when it returns.

“I think that the time is now, at least in capitals, to
offer this kind of treatment for compassionate use but also to find out if it
works so that for the next epidemic, we are ready.
Source: Yahoo News

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