By the 1960s, methods in the detection and treatment (and consequently improvements in the survival rates) of infectious diseases had advanced so significantly that "[d]iseases seemed destined to all but disappear." But the reemergence of previously "eradicated" diseases, and the emergence of new diseases that seemed all-but-untreatable, such as Ebola virus, soon put to rest the euphoria of medical advancement. Ebola virus is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases to emerge in the twentieth century, and through media sources, including movies, television shows, and new reporting, has become one of the most feared. Despite public misunderstanding regarding the causes, symptoms, and treatment of the virus, and some political exaggeration of the dangers, these fears are not without merit, as Ebola virus is life-threatening and difficult to diagnose. The disease is a real and recurring threat to public safety, especially in particular African countries: the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said that the 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest Ebola epidemic in history. Ebola poses a very difficult public health problem partly because there is no known cure. Though oral or intravenous rehydration and symptom-specific treatment improves he infected individual's chances for survival, the disease has a very low survival rate. It is also extremely infectious, and while primarily spread through contact with blood or bodily fluids, has been known to infect through skin-to-skin contact. Thus, the only sure method to prevent the spread of the disease is to prevent exposure through direct contact with infected individuals.10
Benjamin W. Dexter,
Mayhew v. Hickox: Balancing Maine's Public's Health with Personal Liberties During the Ebola "Crisis",
Me. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/mlr/vol68/iss1/16