HOUSTON, TX -The current Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa is the worst of its kind in history but strides against this deadly virus are being made right here in Texas. At UTMB Dr. Thomas Geisbert and his team have successfully tested their work on animals, but need the funds to get it to the public.
But funding is hard, says Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and fellow in duisease and poverty at Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy.
Dr. Hotez says, “A lot of the vaccine development has to come from the non-profit sector because the multi-national pharmaceutical companies have not taken them up in a substantial way.”
Hotez goest on to point out there`s a link between the lack of funding to treat Ebola, and the lack of funding for tropical diseases we already have on the Gulf Coast.
He explains, “Chagas Disease effects.. kills an estimated 10,000 people every year, Dengue Fever kills an estimated 20,000 people every year”…”We don`t really pay much attention to them because they disproportionately effect people in poverty, just like Ebola effects people in poverty.”
Dr. Hotez says the chance of Ebola coming to Houston isn’t high, but also isn’t zero. And he hopes the fear of what might come doesn`t overshadow the diseases that have already arrived.