THE BLOG

Ebola and Bird Flu: Worse Times Ahead?

19/11/2014 12:41 GMT | Updated 18/01/2015 10:59 GMT

I travel on the trains constantly and working in London means you are always brushing passed people. I have my gloves, my hand sanitiser and Boots Cold and Flu defence. I even hold my breathe when I hear someone coughing. Despite these fail safe measures we have recently been reminded of our inability to defend against contagious viruses. Ebola is dreadful and doctors and nurses are struggling to contain it. The duck farm in East Yorkshire with avian flu presents our past winter worries about bird flu and even swine flu that can affect humans. Human contact is inevitable and this is exacerbated in increasingly built up towns and cities. Can a flu epidemic be handled by the NHS? Let alone bird flu or ebola? Crisis plans must already have been drawn up but how will reality play out? It is difficult to know if there will be more bird flu outbreaks over the winter and if this will evolve into the strain that affects humans, and everyone is fearful of ebola spreading across Africa and other continents.

With the repetitive warnings of antibiotic resistance, increasing globalisation and pockets of highly contagious diseases popping up from time to time it is hard not to worry about a disease welcoming the apocalypse. We seem so ill-equipped to deal with it. Human behaviours of not seeking medical attention, contact care and built up areas only hinder the efforts. Doctors without Borders and all the workers helping the areas ebola affects must be applauded, as well as DEFRA for swiftly controlling the bird flu site (although not the bird flu deadly to humans). However, we are yet to see how ebola and bird flu pans out as we approach winter and 2015.

SARS and the flesh eating virus seem distant memories now but new and horrific illnesses pop up wherever life is. It doesn't matter if it is in the developed or developing world. A soon as someone says they have a cold. Someone often pipes up 'Ebola!'. It is still a distant threat now for people to joke about it, but it could just be around the corner. People may laugh at the thought of diseases severely affecting a country in the developed world. We have resources and the NHS. But is that enough? I would predict no, and there has never really been a test to see.

As we busily pootle around our everyday lives, especially on packed tubes, busy streets and trains that travel for hours getting ill is inevitable. If I don't get a bad cold every three months I find this astonishing and a great stroke of luck. That is really what it is: luck. Hand sanitiser doesn't solve everything. With such high expectation of getting ill and all those germs bumbling and waltzing around shouldn't we be more surprised serious epidemics of new and ever dreadful diseases don't break out? I don't wish to scaremonger, it's just a morbid thought. There's lots of awful things to worry about. Don't get hit by that car, or chew that gum while running. But please do remind me to book my flu jab appointment.