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Ebola Virus Disease in Australia

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Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans. Ebola is usually introduced to a human through mucosal surfaces, breaks and abrasions in the skin. Most cases occur after close contact with infected humans, bats and chimpanzees. When the Ebola virus enters the body through the initial infection site it travels to the regional lymph nodes, liver and spleen. The host will experience sudden fever, fatigue, sore throat and muscle pain. As the Ebola virus spreads through the body it kills cells and damages the immune system causing the platelets, which clot the blood, to drop, leading to uncontrollable bleeding. Other symptoms include vomiting, rashes and diarrhea.

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Ebola is a highly contagious and dangerous disease, which would quickly spread if it made it into Australian borders. This is evident in Equatorial Africa who has had a continual increase in the number of cases since the year 2000. Only 1 in 10 people survive Ebola once infected, and although healthcare facilities in Australia are superior to most, if an outbreak was to occur it would lead to multiple fatalities. There is no cure for Ebola so affected individuals must manage the disease through treatments such as oxygen therapy, blood transfusions as well as intaking fluids and electrolytes intravenously. These management techniques aren’t just highly time consuming but are also very expensive and lead to long term health effects reducing quality of life for those affected. Quarantine could prevent all of these problems.

In response to the EVD outbreak in 2014, Australia closed its borders to people from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. These countries are known to have high rates of Ebola and it effectively stopped the entry of the virus into Australia. West African’s with permanent visas were required to undertake a 21 day quarantine period once they arrive, no matter what their exposure history was. Also, during this outbreak period in 2014, Australia refused to send health workers to Africa to assist in the treatment of EVD, stating that the large distance between Australia and the affected areas made it difficult for evacuation if a worker was to be infected.

To this date Australia has had no reported cases of Ebola and by closing down our borders to affected countries we have successfully prevented, and continued to prevent EVD from entering Australia. However, the highly publicized outbreak caused unwarranted hysteria in Western Countries and although, this led to the closure of Australian borders it was largely unhelpful in containing the contagious disease. This form of extreme quarantine not only prevents infected people from entering our boarders but it also stops unaffected citizens from entering our country. Australia also suspended its humanitarian program and stopped accepting West African Refugees. These tactics may have guaranteed the safety of Australia but it seriously disadvantages the countries more in need of our help. Consequently, this had a damning impact on Australia’s multicultural and inclusive reputation.

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