August 3rd, 2014
12:39 AM ET

Gupta: We're going to see Ebola around the world

Fareed speaks with Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, about the recent outbreak of Ebola. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Sanjay, how has this been blocked in the past? Why does this seem unprecedented? Is there something different right now?

You know, in a morbid way, it's because it killed so quickly – it would just burn out. You imagine these remote villages. People weren't moving around as quickly. And the Ebola virus – they would die and before they could start to spread it…it's awful to think about, but that's what was happening.

Now, you have a more mobile group. You have more roads between some of these smaller villages, such as in Guinea, where this originated, and the capital city of Conakry. There are roads. There are all these good passageways now back and forth. And so I think that part of it is certainly contributing. There’s also this idea that there’s a mistrust – I think a little bit of distrust, maybe – even of health care professionals. In part, that's fueled by the fact that there’s no good anti-viral, there’s no good vaccine. So we need to see health care workers show up, they're not offering some panacea to what is happening here.

And so there's not a lot of trust. And a lot of the people who are getting infected aren't hearing the right messages.  And you also have several epidemics sort of starting in different points almost simultaneously now. Usually, it was one place you could target.

Sanjay, how are we going to control the spread? How does one track whether people have Ebola? You think about, as you say, there are roads. There are also trains. There are also planes now. People can get on flights from Liberia, from Sierra Leone. How do we handle this?

Well, I think we're going to hear at some point – I don't know if it's during this outbreak or a future one – we are going to hear about patients with Ebola showing up in other countries in the Western Hemisphere. I can't imagine that not happening, having seen how it all works. And keep in mind, between the time of exposure to the virus and the time someone gets sick, it could be as long as 21 days. It can travel all over the world, obviously, during that time.

I think if there's any good news in this, it's when you think about countries like the United States, Britain, who are having high level discussions on this topic, they are in a much better position to be able to control this. First of all, they could isolate the patient quite quickly, provide fluids and blood clotting factors to try and provide what is called supportive therapy and prevent these patients with the virus becoming epidemics or the source of epidemics.

So I think it's going to happen. We're going to see Ebola around the world. But I think it's not going to turn into lots of mini outbreaks.​


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Topics: GPS Show • Health

soundoff (506 Responses)
  1. Alan

    The world waited too long to sent help yo the infected villages.

    August 3, 2014 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • onebadmamajama

      That is a kind of racism, trust in them to handle it. Africa is a wealthy continent with oil producing nations bringing in money in the billions, with South Africa with its gold and diamonds. They have their own hospitals and resources. The white man and Europe and USA is not needed.

      August 3, 2014 at 11:02 am | Reply
  2. krehator

    I'm infecting the Mexican Free-Tailed bat in the US. Let's see how far this disease can spread..............

    August 3, 2014 at 10:46 am | Reply
  3. Carlos Diaz

    One final thought: Here is my final prediction: People in Africa WILL EVENTUALLY PANIC and RUN. AND MIGRATE to other countries. I can think of Spain and surrounding islands. This is exactly how the computer contagion will start worldwide. Just a thought.....

    August 3, 2014 at 10:47 am | Reply
    • onebadmamajama

      You are right. It spreads when the wealthy catch it and travel to other nations.

      August 3, 2014 at 11:00 am | Reply
  4. Name*Chris

    Is he the same "expert" that gave us the doom and gloom story about the Bird Flu spreading?

    August 3, 2014 at 10:48 am | Reply
  5. Lori

    I'd like to hear more about the American that died in Nigeria after infecting a whole plane load of people. where are they? Please tell me they've all been quarantined?

    August 3, 2014 at 10:48 am | Reply
    • Lori

      I should have said "exposing" rather than "infecting". My bad.

      August 3, 2014 at 10:49 am | Reply
      • snowboarder

        He was in 4 different airports and it has been reported that they are trying to track down the 30,000 or so people who may have come into contact with him.

        August 3, 2014 at 10:55 am |
      • Jd

        Unless he shared a drink with all the passengers and flight crew there's probably no reason to suspect he knowingly did anything your saying

        August 3, 2014 at 11:12 am |
      • Laura

        He did not "expose" a plane full of people unless they all managed to come into contact with his bodily fluids. Lets not all panic.

        August 3, 2014 at 11:17 am |
  6. jeff

    Quarantine? What about all this advertising of ebola? Terrorist can go get infected and have 21 days to (suicide) infect anyone.

    August 3, 2014 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • Dirty Harry

      Similarly concerned but it's UP to 21 days, ... not guaranteed (apparently to if to catch, thankfully), and not sure Allah is down with the whole zombie thingy (not my area of expertise)

      August 3, 2014 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • Veronika

      Not quite. Actually incubation is between three and 21 days, so it's a range and the disease is not contagious until the carrier shows symptoms (fever, chills etc). Once symptoms show the disease runs its course quickly and the patient would have little opportunity to walk around spreading it, because he would be too sick. I think mass transport (Airlines especially) will begin to keep people that show signs of an illness off a plane at some point.

      August 3, 2014 at 11:01 am | Reply
    • Ali

      Unlikely. Terrorists prefer more "showy" destroying buildings, etc. There's no way to clearly "take credit" for an outbreak. Bioterror would have already happened. High instant body count is their preferred method

      August 3, 2014 at 11:05 am | Reply
    • Jd

      They will have to kiss, spit or share a drink with their victims and after 21 days do it from a hospital bed in a coma.
      It is classified as a grade 1 biological weapon, but its wouldn't be delivered that way.

      August 3, 2014 at 11:18 am | Reply
  7. RF Potter

    What about horse flies known to bite multiple times, is that a drop of blood enough to spread Ebola?

    August 3, 2014 at 10:53 am | Reply
    • Laura

      The reservoir for Ebola is bats, not insects.

      August 3, 2014 at 11:19 am | Reply
  8. DarqueSide

    Of course Ebola will go global. EVERYTHING can go global at this point because air travel makes it possible.

    August 3, 2014 at 10:53 am | Reply
  9. Dana Ri

    Let's look at how little money we spend on medical research and how much we spend on the military. A 3% cut for the Pentagon would double the NIH's total budget. Let's have an honest conversation about the balance of spending between these two.

    Dr. Gupta, if you want to be more than just a brand, you need to tackle the real issues.

    August 3, 2014 at 10:53 am | Reply
    • cary fujita

      Why do Democrats always insist spending less on the military in order to spend more on their favorite, feel good, socialist program? Dana Ri, the military costs more because its paid for by taxpayers. Medical, until Obama and the Democrats, was paid for mainly by the private sector free market. You should worry more about what will soon become our biggest expense, the interest on the national debt due to unbridled Democrat spending.

      August 3, 2014 at 11:08 am | Reply
  10. robert earnest

    Yeah, starting right here in America

    August 3, 2014 at 10:55 am | Reply
  11. Comment ToMyself

    Those who can, do. Those who can't find and report the news, work for CNN.

    "Gupta: We're going to see Ebola around the world"

    If you can't get to the news, manufacture it yourself. We can file this "news story" under G for garbage, along with "Wolf Blitzer climbs in a tunnel–brags he's unafraid" and "Wolf Blitzer tries to debate Michael Bloomberg in the middle of an interview".

    August 3, 2014 at 10:59 am | Reply
  12. jeff

    Can't be transfered through air.

    August 3, 2014 at 10:59 am | Reply
  13. alobeebola

    This disease started somewhere, somehow and if done intentionally, it will eventually make its way back to the originator. If they can contain and control (so they say) Ebola in America, why can't that same capability be given to the native people? We have a vaccine for almost everything, where's the one to control this?

    August 3, 2014 at 10:59 am | Reply
  14. KenC

    There are a number of factors today. People question the wisdom of flying infected people to the US. Contrary to the popular myth, the people responsible for this decision are not stupid or misinformed. There is a very good reason why they are flying these infected people here, they believe the outbreak has jumped West Africa and is out anyway. The American citizen that made it to Nigeria sick on a plane before dying there made it clear that the outbreak is no longer controllable. The next logical thing to do is prepare for the eventual treatment of US cases. They need to set up facilities and provide training for medical personnel on how to work with hot pathogens. The two sick doctors provide a good training situation for people and get us prepared for an eventual outbreak here. Those two infected people are probably walking dead, and saving them is secondary. Can you imagine doing anything else? I don't want the disease on US shores, but it may already be and we should get as ready for it as we can.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:00 am | Reply
  15. Gene

    "Gupta: We're going to see Ebola around the world".
    Well DUH, we just flew it into the USA..........

    August 3, 2014 at 11:00 am | Reply
  16. puddintane

    I'm expecting some radical to deliberately infect himself with it, then blow himself up in a busy place for the love of his idol, to punish the infidel and secure his place in heaven. Total pandemonium and copycat deeds will ensue. The sick and dead all will need to be treated by ridiculously costly and elaborate methods that will be unreliable

    August 3, 2014 at 11:02 am | Reply
  17. Victor

    I don't think you, Fareed Zakaria, should predict a pandemic of ebola. While I do believe you have the free speech right to say almost anything you want to; I strongly disagree with your prediction. I think it's like yelling FIRE in a theater.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:04 am | Reply
  18. Tom

    This guy is a genius for stating the obvious. Of course it'll go global because of improved transportation between infected and non-infected countries. We just spent a ton of $$ bringing it into the USA.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:06 am | Reply
  19. nonPCrealist

    So if Mr. Mainstream-Media-Medical-Mouthpiece is saying this, it must be a lot worse.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:09 am | Reply
  20. Julie

    What worries me is the number if US employes who fail to allow paid sick days and the number of Americans who believe a good work ethic means coming to work sick, even if they do have sick days. If it comes to our shores, workers ignoring "flu symptoms" are sure to spread it.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:10 am | Reply
  21. Katie

    There are many things to be concerned about, from the spread of this horrible disease to the spread of fear and misinformation about it. The disease is NOT extremely easy to catch. An infected person is NOT contagious until he/she is showing symptoms. Currently it is solely spread through blood and body fluids, and while that does include saliva and sweat, the key transmission is still through blood and vomit. The biggest risk to someone who is administering help to an obviously sick person. What can the rest of the uninfected world do about it? Get informed. Stop panicking. You are far more likely to die because you use your phone while driving (or because someone else is using theirs while driving) than you are by contracting Ebola.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:11 am | Reply
  22. Name*zanow

    They brought the doctor here so the disease could be studied prior to it reaching us shores which is bound to happen in the next couple of weeks.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:11 am | Reply
    • KenC

      Exactly. The genie is out of the bottle. Time to learn and get ready for it. I am not confident in the reports that the disease is very hard to spread. There is not a lot of data about human transmission outside of primitive hospital conditions. Have any of you looked at what they call hospitals in West Africa? I have been camping in rundown lake houses that look more organized and cleaner. Two doctors trained in Western medicine, knowing the risks, got themselves infected and they have no idea how. They better figure out fast before American start dropping like flies.

      August 3, 2014 at 11:18 am | Reply
  23. Doug

    Keep people from traveling the Africa. Want to see a lion, go to the zoo. Think seeing villagers will make for a fun picture for your Instagram? Pick another continent. We have a UN and international laws, so restrict travel into and out of the whole of Africa until a viable vaccine and treatment is found for Ebola. Once this virus gets out, it's all over. In the developed world we have gyms and sweaty people on public transit that will help to quickly spread the virus once it is out here.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:11 am | Reply
  24. cary fujita

    Everyone who has been in an area where people have Ebola should be quarantined for the incubation period before being allowed into the general public.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:11 am | Reply
  25. fumes

    It killed the dinosaurs. It can kill us!

    August 3, 2014 at 11:12 am | Reply
  26. Texas

    ..and we are bringing it back to Atlanta. Is this wise?

    August 3, 2014 at 11:13 am | Reply
  27. Jon

    Okay, folks, let's step back and look at this rationally.

    Bringing a pair of infected people to a hospital designed to handle infectious diseases is not a major risk. Ebola is not easily transmitted, and this facility is designed to keep those who work there protected from diseases which are transmitted far more easily. If it didn't work, the people who work there would be dead from something else already.

    Even if their protocols somehow break down, outbreaks only get out of hand when their source isn't quickly identified. We would know exactly where it started in this case, and so be able to easily identify those who could be at risk which then allows us to surge whatever resources would be necessary to prevent it becoming a major outbreak.

    As for quarantining all of West Africa (as some people have proposed), let's take a look at some numbers to figure out if that's a reasonable approach: In Guinea, there have been 472 confirmed or suspected cases in the first 7 months of the year. Distribution isn't equal, but let's extrapolate anyway and assume that Guinea will finish this year with about 810 cases total. Mortality rates are hard to calculate mid-outbreak because it's unclear how many diagnosed are recovered and how many may yet die, so let's assume the historical worst-case of 90% (which no one thinks will happen this time), that gives us about 730 deaths this year.

    According to the WHOs 2011 report, the 20th leading cause of death in Guinea is asthma, killing 1038 people per year. Comparing our projection to that number, Asthma is going to kill 42% more people in Guinea this year than Ebola... and that's a comparison to the 20th leading cause of death in the country.

    I understand that Ebola is scary. But if you were to visit Guinea right now, you'd be far more likely to die in a traffic accident than because of Ebola. And the disparity will get infinitely larger if you avoid handling dead bodies and don't go looking for sick people to provide medical care to.

    Knowing that, quarantining the whole country seems more than a little excessive.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:13 am | Reply
  28. Dot8

    Thank God Gupta has been wrong before ... he's good at scaring the population.

    August 3, 2014 at 11:18 am | Reply
  29. Motcha

    Thank you Dr. Sanja!!!!

    August 3, 2014 at 11:23 am | Reply
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