There is a virus on the loose in Africa that has a ninety percent mortality for anyone who contacts it. This is the Ebola virus. The virus which was previously confined to East Africa has now broken out in West Africa and spread into the most populous nation on the continent, Nigeria. This outbreak is the worst recorded and has health officials worried. We believe that investors should also be concerned about the potential economic devastation of the Ebola virus. How do you protect and invest your money if the world descends into an Ebola Virus chaos?
What Is Ebola?
Ebola virus disease is also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The disease is believed to be initially contacted from infected animals such as pigs, monkeys or fruit bats. Once a person contacts the disease he or she may have symptoms in a couple of days or not for as long as three weeks. The initial symptoms of fever, sore throat, headache and muscle pains are non-specific so a person may go to a doctor or even be admitted to a hospital not knowing the cause. When nausea, vomiting, liver and kidney failure and bleeding occur the disease is obvious. A problem of this disease is that when a person is ill he or she carries the virus in bodily fluids so diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding can easily spread the disease. And, because the disease by not be apparent for up to three weeks an infected person could travel internationally and spread the disease in a neighboring country or continent. The disease so far is confined to Africa but an infected person traveled by air from Liberia to Nigeria bringing the disease with. As many as nine out of ten people who get the Ebola virus die. There is no vaccine and care is only supportive as there is no antibiotic that kills the virus. Quarantine and extreme precautions against touching infected materials are essential to control of the spread of the disease. In the current outbreak over a thousand people have been infected and to date nearly seven hundred are dead.
Extreme Circumstances Require Extreme Measures
Because previous Ebola outbreaks have been confined to East Africa and easily contained health care workers have basically treated those infected until they recovered or died. As we now see that a person with the disease got outside of the containment area there is a concern that more people could flee the epidemic area even though they might already be infected. It is absolutely possible that someone could fly to Europe, the Americas or Asia and spread the disease to unsuspecting populations. The most effective way to stop this would be to shut down all transportation or at least confine and quarantine travelers until they can be proven not to be infected. The first potential economic devastation of Ebola virus comes from the risk of wider spread in the areas where it currently exists. But if the virus leaves Africa it could become the case that it would require an international shutdown of air traffic, quarantine of boat crews and passengers and heavy security at border crossings. The most extreme case and potential economic devastation and human tragedy of Ebola virus would be if it were to spread to areas of warfare where public health measures are virtually impossible to enforce.
Investing in the World of Ebola
What fundamental analysis will be useful to help save your assets if Ebola spreads beyond Africa? Widespread shutdown of travel would hurt the airlines, hotels, resorts and vacation destinations. The arrival of the disease in any major city would put huge stress on health care services and public health services. One can image martial law being necessary with great damage to national economies. Dispersing your assets by trading foreign stocks would be a way of spreading the risk of potential economic devastation of the Ebola virus.