UN's health agency warns that 'high impact epidemics' (think: Ebola) are the 'new normal'

The best reason of all to regain control of our southern border comes from an unexpected source: the U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO).

Addressing the current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there are 2,025 cases of Ebola and 1,357 deaths from the virus, the WHO's Michael Ryan, the official overseeing the WHO's response to it, said:

"In a worse [sic] case scenario, I can definitely develop a scenario where this is going to take another year or two years," Ryan said.  "At this point, the outcome is effort-related.  Are we prepared to make the immediate, sustained, comprehensive effort to bring this disease under control?"

Speaking to the BBC, he added:

"We are entering a very new phase of high impact epidemics and this isn't just Ebola," Dr Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO's health emergencies programme told me.

He said the world is "seeing a very worrying convergence of risks" that are increasing the dangers of diseases including Ebola, cholera and yellow fever.

He said climate change, emerging diseases, exploitation of the rainforest, large and highly mobile populations, weak governments and conflict were making outbreaks more likely to occur and more likely to swell in size once they did.

Dr. Ryan said the World Health Organization was tracking 160 disease events around the world and nine were grade three emergencies (the WHO's highest emergency level).

"I don't think we've ever had a situation where we're responding to so many emergencies at one time. This is a new normal, I don't expect the frequency of these events to reduce."

As a result, he argued that countries and other bodies needed to "get to grips with readiness [and] be ready for these epidemics".

Part of that readiness must be strict border and immigration controls at airports and seaports.  Because:

U.S. Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 150 African immigrants [sic] attempting unauthorized crossings into Texas at the U.S. southern border within the past week, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On Saturday, agents arrested a group of 37 undocumented immigrants [sic] from Central Africa who had crossed the winding Rio Grande onto U.S. soil, the CBP said in a news release Tuesday. The agency said the immigrants [sic] consisted of family groups, including small children, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo.

Last Thursday evening, agents picked up a group of 116 African immigrants [sic] crossing the river in the Del Rio sector, the CBP said in a May 31 news release.

As Monica Showalter wrote on these pages three days ago:

What's terrible here is that we've already seen what can happen when unvetted people are allowed into the country.  In 2014, an ebola patient from Liberia, Eric Duncan, came to an unprepared Dallas hospital and spread the disease to two nurses, who in turn unwittingly exposed other places to the epidemic.  A wedding gown shop in Ohio was shut down.  The nurses had to undergo extensive treatment at a specialized facility in Maryland.  At least one sued the hospital and now refuses to work as an intensive care nurse.

Duncan, meanwhile, gave conflicting stories to investigators on how he was exposed to the epidemic, and he certainly should not have been traveling after his exposure to previous victims.  Whether he came her for medical care for ebola was unknown, but obviously, people who have this dreaded illness are not always going to be honest because the fact is, they are desperate.

What the Duncan case showed is that all it takes is just one unvetted migrant from the ebola epidemic area to throw the U.S. health system into disorder.  You can bet some of these current Congolese migrants are going to be making asylum claims based on the known political violence from ISIS terrorists in their country.  But any asylum claim based on that raises the possibility that they are coming from the ebola zones, and it's unknown if they are desperately fleeing that or if they have been exposed or if they are going to be honest about it.  Who knows if Customs and Border Protection officers are going to be able to keep them out if they are, anyway?

This is the makings of a public health disaster here in the states, and sadly, we are probably going to have to learn the hard way, after the disease is here and spreading into the population.

WHO logo (via Twitter).

The best reason of all to regain control of our southern border comes from an unexpected source: the U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO).

Addressing the current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there are 2,025 cases of Ebola and 1,357 deaths from the virus, the WHO's Michael Ryan, the official overseeing the WHO's response to it, said:

"In a worse [sic] case scenario, I can definitely develop a scenario where this is going to take another year or two years," Ryan said.  "At this point, the outcome is effort-related.  Are we prepared to make the immediate, sustained, comprehensive effort to bring this disease under control?"

Speaking to the BBC, he added:

"We are entering a very new phase of high impact epidemics and this isn't just Ebola," Dr Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO's health emergencies programme told me.

He said the world is "seeing a very worrying convergence of risks" that are increasing the dangers of diseases including Ebola, cholera and yellow fever.

He said climate change, emerging diseases, exploitation of the rainforest, large and highly mobile populations, weak governments and conflict were making outbreaks more likely to occur and more likely to swell in size once they did.

Dr. Ryan said the World Health Organization was tracking 160 disease events around the world and nine were grade three emergencies (the WHO's highest emergency level).

"I don't think we've ever had a situation where we're responding to so many emergencies at one time. This is a new normal, I don't expect the frequency of these events to reduce."

As a result, he argued that countries and other bodies needed to "get to grips with readiness [and] be ready for these epidemics".

Part of that readiness must be strict border and immigration controls at airports and seaports.  Because:

U.S. Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 150 African immigrants [sic] attempting unauthorized crossings into Texas at the U.S. southern border within the past week, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On Saturday, agents arrested a group of 37 undocumented immigrants [sic] from Central Africa who had crossed the winding Rio Grande onto U.S. soil, the CBP said in a news release Tuesday. The agency said the immigrants [sic] consisted of family groups, including small children, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo.

Last Thursday evening, agents picked up a group of 116 African immigrants [sic] crossing the river in the Del Rio sector, the CBP said in a May 31 news release.

As Monica Showalter wrote on these pages three days ago:

What's terrible here is that we've already seen what can happen when unvetted people are allowed into the country.  In 2014, an ebola patient from Liberia, Eric Duncan, came to an unprepared Dallas hospital and spread the disease to two nurses, who in turn unwittingly exposed other places to the epidemic.  A wedding gown shop in Ohio was shut down.  The nurses had to undergo extensive treatment at a specialized facility in Maryland.  At least one sued the hospital and now refuses to work as an intensive care nurse.

Duncan, meanwhile, gave conflicting stories to investigators on how he was exposed to the epidemic, and he certainly should not have been traveling after his exposure to previous victims.  Whether he came her for medical care for ebola was unknown, but obviously, people who have this dreaded illness are not always going to be honest because the fact is, they are desperate.

What the Duncan case showed is that all it takes is just one unvetted migrant from the ebola epidemic area to throw the U.S. health system into disorder.  You can bet some of these current Congolese migrants are going to be making asylum claims based on the known political violence from ISIS terrorists in their country.  But any asylum claim based on that raises the possibility that they are coming from the ebola zones, and it's unknown if they are desperately fleeing that or if they have been exposed or if they are going to be honest about it.  Who knows if Customs and Border Protection officers are going to be able to keep them out if they are, anyway?

This is the makings of a public health disaster here in the states, and sadly, we are probably going to have to learn the hard way, after the disease is here and spreading into the population.

WHO logo (via Twitter).