Purdue expert discusses the deadly Ebola virus

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Ebola is as “a tragic, dreadful and merciless virus,” according to a CDC official. One Purdue expert stopped by News 18 at Five to discuss this dangerous disease.

David Sanders is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Purdue. His work on Ebola landed him a part in the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s program to prevent proliferation of biological weapons.

Dr. Sanders made an appearance on News 18 at Five on Thursday to discuss what is now being called the deadliest recorded Ebola outbreak as deaths across West Africa have now surpassed 700.

It’s a virus that has no treatment and no vaccine. Sanders said people have been working on a vaccine and there a few in the experimental stage, but there are problems.

“The problem is — and this is part of out own work — Ebola changes rapidly,” Dr. Sanders explained. “The part of the virus that antibodies would tend to target is the part that varies the most. So if you could generate a vaccine that would be fine, but it may not protect the next Ebola that emerges.

Ebola has a 40 to 80 percent fatality rate and causes bleeding all over the body. But Sanders said even though Ebola is dangerous, it is not transmitted that easily. He said you must be directly exposed to bodily fluids to contact the virus.

“The thing about Ebola — if you don’t have any visible symptoms, you can’t transmit it,” said Dr, Sanders. “So it’s true that somebody that is infected with Ebola could come over here and potentially have it here in the United States, but we should be able to detect it and prevent its spread using our Western containment.”

Sanders agrees it would be a scary way to die, but it’s not something we should be panicking about. He said the concern is not so much about the virus itself, as it is about the panic the virus can cause.

“For example, if someone were to announce there was a case of Ebola in Chicago today, there would be a large amount of panic and a large amount of economic damage,” Dr. Sanders said. “The same thing could be done whether the virus is introduced by a person coming over or being released as a biological weapon. So, that’s what we have to be thinking about…Panic is always the wrong option.”

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