With the advent of antibiotics and vaccinations, widespread epidemics are usually seen as a relic of the past. Medicine has come so far that pathogens, one of the primal enemies of mankind, have finally been defeated. However, slowly but surely, antibiotic resistance and many viruses that evolve too quickly for vaccinations to keep up have entered the playing field. The rise of these new and improved pathogens have sparked alarm amongst the medical and political community.

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned of a possible relapse into Medieval Era medicinal technology if we did not take steps to counter the pathogen outbreaks. Bringing it up in discussion at the most recent G7 Summit, Cameron has gathered the support of such figures as Angela Merkel of Germany and Barack Obama of the United States.

Multidrug-resistant bacteria are already responsible for more than 25,000 deaths per year in Europe. The slowdown of diverse antibiotic production in recent years and the over-prescription of drugs have generally been seen as the culprits to this dangerous trend. In order to tackle the problem of drug resistance, it is imperative for global leaders to immediately put a stop to doctors prescribing antibiotics for simple, inconvenient illnesses that are essentially harmless.

Although drug resistance in bacteria have become a major concern for healthcare workers around the world, the most problematic issue today is the rise of untreatable viruses. The Ebola outbreak currently occurring in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia has taken the lives of 467 people so far. Ebola is a particularly virulent illness transmitted by fruit bats that has a mortality rate of 90 percent.

With no vaccine and no cure, Ebola is notorious for wiping out remote villages in Africa with no stable health facility. Contagious through touch, it is easily transmitted if the infected are in close quarters with healthy people. Once infected, patients develop weakness, an extremely high fever, muscle pain, sore throats, vomiting, diarrhea, and hemorrhage. The current outbreak originated near the city of Gueckedou, Guinea and has already overcome three other countries in an unprecedented geographic spread.

The situation in these countries have been exacerbated due to ignorance of what the virus is and poor infrastructure. In southeast Guinea, citizens halted Red Cross workers at knifepoint from helping the infected because they believed that the foreigners were causing the whole outbreak. Since Gueckedou is also a major trading hub in the area, the virus has also thrived on the sheer amount of people passing through the city. In many places, the people have stuck to traditional burial rites to mourn the deceased, such as washing the dead body in a river. Although spiritually fulfilling, the practice has led to contamination of much of the area’s resources. In other parts of the area, villagers have attributed the virus to such supernatural explanations as witchcraft and refused to seek treatment, some even hiding family members infected with the virus. It has gotten so bad that the governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia had to publicly ban the evasion of healthcare for Ebola. The lack of media venues and communication within countries have also contributed to the ignorance of the disease.

The pace that the disease has been spreading at is extremely alarming. This is the first time that the deadly disease has occurred in Western Africa, usually having occurred in Central Africa. It is the responsibility of all surrounding countries, even those outside of Africa, to take steps to contain the virus. Although governmental miscommunication and a deficit between traditional and modern medicinal methods have been the core of what has made Ebola so devastating in these three countries, Ebola is nevertheless extremely dangerous in of itself. Steps should be taken to not only quarantine the virus from the populace of the three infected countries but to solve the root of why the disease has been so particularly damaging to the countries.

Because the outbreak has been affecting three countries instead of one, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia has had to take unprecedented steps in communicating with one another to combat the disease together. Although they are doing so as of right now, it would have been far more beneficial had they immediately begun to do so once the outbreak began. The world has a huge responsibility to shoulder to facilitate communication between countries that have a mutual health problem. In addition, the world has to make an effort to curb the extent of bushmeat in Africa. Although it is impossible to eradicate the practice entirely, the governments of countries prone to Ebola should at least ban the sale of fruit bats or highly publicize the dangers of eating fruit bats. Eradication of poor communication is the first step to combat the spread of such deadly viruses amongst societies.

Although it is too late to help out the Ebola situation in West Africa besides hydrating the infected and quarantining the rest of the populace from the disease, the world has to wake up to the lurking dangers of global health epidemics. From incurable viruses to multidrug-resistant bacteria, the pathogens of the world have made an enormous comeback. To produce better results when combatting the diseases when they occur, the world has to make preparations by making it easier for bordering countries to communicate with one another in times of need, improving infrastructure, and curbing practices that facilitate outbreaks of disease such as bushmeat.