This novel was written way back in 1986. It was called ‘Ebola in the Garden of Eden’. I am presently editing it for release as a Ron Forsythe book. It is being retitled ‘New Eden’.
It tells the story of a lethal pandemic deliberately released to cull the population.
Here’s an excerpt:
‘We think we have achieved containment,’ a weary looking Doctor Menzies asserted. Behind him the backdrop showed the array of hospital isolation units which had been hastily assembled to meet the emergency. This unit was the largest in Kinshasha and housed ten thousand patients. ‘Once again the speed of the World Health Organisation reaction has prevented a major outbreak and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those in the United Nations for their swift humanitarian aid.’
‘I would consider 50,000 deaths a major outbreak,’ the reporter responded aggressively.
‘It is a tragedy,’ Doctor Menzies admitted. ‘I am not for one moment underplaying the terrible personal heartbreak connected with this disease. I am merely putting this into perspective. The population of Kinshasha alone is over sixty million. The disease could easily had spread through the whole of that tightly packed conurbation.’
The holo showed the scene in Kinshasha central with the packed pedistreams and offices. Everywhere you looked people were packed together. It was as the Doctor described – a perfect breeding ground for a contagious virus. The wonder was, given the fact that the merest brush of a contaminated person, or contact with anything they had touched could prove fatal. It was hard to see how it had been contained effectively.
‘Then, if it had broken out of the confines of Kinshasha the rest of the world was open to infection,’ Doctor Menzies explained. ‘It would have rapidly run out of control. We would have been looking at millions of deaths.’
‘So how did you manage to contain the outbreak,’ the reporter asked.
‘We have a great deal of experience working with the Ebola virus,’ Doctor Menzies explained. ‘The major part of our prevention programme is that of education. The Ebola virus is only contagious when victims start to display symptoms and only contagious through contact with body fluids including sweat. As our success rate at treating the disease is now over 70%, we have managed to convince the population to isolate themselves and come straight in for treatment when they suffer the slightest symptom.’
‘What role do the temperature checks on the pedistreams and entrances to public buildings play in this containment?’ The reporter enquired.
‘They have been useful in the early identification of the stragglers,’ Dr Menzies said, allowing himself a little wan smile. ‘Not everyone is good at self-analysis. Many choose to shrug it off and carry on.’
‘Can they refuse treatment?’ the reporter enquired.
‘Oh no,’ Doctor Menzies asserted strongly. ‘This is a notifiable disease. Anyone having Ebola is considered a danger to the public. They would be forcibly isolated if they refused treatment. People who have openly flouted the rules and failed to accept treatment could even find themselves prosecuted. If knowing they have the disease they have continued to put others at risk by deliberately associating with uninfected people they could even be prosecuted for murder. This is a serious disease.’
There was a moment of silence as the import of Doctor Menzies words hung in the air.
‘Once isolated how are they treated?’ the reporter asked, picking up the thread of the interview.
‘Well first let me thank the WHO again,’ Dr Menzies said in a less severe tone. ‘And the world community who operate through the auspices of the United Nations. It is they who have provided the isolation units and nursing staff who have ensured the success of this operation.’
Dr Thabo Menzies looked directly out through the holo as if he were looking into the eyes of everyone of his audience. ‘Without your caring and generosity, millions would have died and the world community would have been at risk. Thank you for all your concern and donations.’
Dr Menzies turned back to the young reporter. ‘The isolation units are flown in during the early stages when it is essential to prevent the spread of the disease. Without the thousands of volunteer nurses who are risking their lives on a daily basis, this outbreak would not have been contained. We are grateful for the speedy response of the United Nations and the thousands of volunteers. Thank you all.’
‘This disease used to be fatal,’ the reporter stated. ‘How have you managed to move to a 70% survival rate.’
‘Good new anti-viral drugs, good food and damn good nursing,’ Doctor Menzies said with a broad grin.
‘So what is the present state of play?’
‘Well after an initial exponential growth in victims, in which the numbers were doubling every two weeks, we are now stable,’ Dr Menzies said. ‘This week we have seen a fall in the number of new cases. I am thinking that we have broken the back of the outbreak.’
‘Thank you Doctor Menzies.’
‘My pleasure.’ He turned away towards the blocks of Plexiglas isolation units.