The Ebola Outbreak: Assessing the Global Threat

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Aug. 4 -- Columbia University's W. Ian Lipkin discusses the threat from the recent Ebola outbreak with Pimm Fox on "Taking Stock." (Source: Bloomberg)

Context as the real disease.

I am wondering if there is any connection, should people go and watch the movie to learn more about how this disease exists?

The movie we made in 2011 that was written by scott burns and directed by stephen sundberg , this is a fire us that has a respiratory spread.

That's important because the risk of spread beyond a few people who may be exposed to the virus is much much greater.

Ebola is very different.

It is a huge problem in west africa.

Even his were to come to this country it would not spread deeper than a few people.

It is worrisome but primarily for humanitarian reasons.

Describe what is this virus.

This is an emerging infectious disease virus.

Half the people infected with this virus have a problem where they begin to -- uncontrollably.

They may end up having organ failure, so the kidneys stop, liver stops functioning, they become comatose.

A typically we see fatality rights is -- typically we see fatality rates as high as 90%. that is combating our ability to interpret the results and some of the passive therapy that people are receiving.

I hope we have a chance to talk a little bit about that.

Tell us what that means for tracking, diagnosing, and ultimately treating.

The way we track these viruses is we identify the individual who has been infected with the virus, everyone who may have caught that may have got in contact with them, and that we observe them for a period of several days to see if they do or do not develop signs of disease.

If they do develop signs of disease we have to extend our net further.

With respiratory viruses it is very easy for things to ping-pong around the globe.

This virus does not spread very easily.

Him we tend to see a small cluster of disease and if we moved to the united states or europe we do not spread at the initial cluster.

A it will illuminate some of the practices that may lead to further spread.

Is there a report that mount sinai hospital is trying to diagnose a particular individual to see if they do and have -- do in fact have the ebola virus?

Is that a test that is easily done?

If you have the appropriate test and if you have control it is a fairly straightforward test.

It is also true that other viruses may look like ebola but may not be ebola.

In the medical marketplace people are increasingly looking toward moving toward diagnostic tests that do not test for single agent to test for many agents at the same time.

Because if you do not find ebola the question is what else might it be?

There are specific therapies and specific interventions for specific types of virus agents.

What is the root of ebola?

We presume the root of ebola is a bat.

That is by analogy to a related virus, which we know is found in bats.

Today no one has found a bullet growing in a bat.

This particular virus we are talking about today -- until we do that we have conjecture.

We haven't proven it unequivocally.

Geographically we have been able to document the ebola virus in saudi arabia as well as west africa.

Saudi arabia is a different virus.

It is a respiratory virus that went from bats to camels and camels to people.

Now it is spreading person-to-person.

Is there any indication that these mutations and these changes in the strength of the virus can be related to immunotherapy so transforms itself into something that cannot be combated with current vaccines?

You are alluding to a scene in the movie, our movie, where we talk about the viruses evolve and become more dangerous.

There is no evidence that ebola virus is distinctive so that it will have unusual properties and will be able to make it more capable, causing more severe disease.

In fact the interventional therapy people are now using in atlanta and elsewhere is presumably based upon an earlier strain of ebola.

We are taking plasma serum from people who have recovered from a bola and then using that in people who are at risk for having severe disease.

What the antibodies do is prevent viruses from getting inside cells and they may have an effect on the ability to reproduce itself.

If you identify the cells in the blood that have the capacity to make these anti-bodies and you create monoclonal antibodies in a very well defined specificity and activity, you grow them in large concentrations and then you can use them just like a drug.

It is very helpful.

That is now what is being employed where people are

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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