The global community would be better served by fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, rather than waiting for it to come knocking on our own doors, according to a medical microbiologist at The University of Western Australia.
Professor Tim Inglis, from UWA's School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, has written an article published today in the international journal Nature about Australia's response to the Ebola outbreak.
He said Australia needed to mobilise laboratory support to the West Africa Ebola epidemic so that disease control specialists working at the edge of the epidemic could more effectively target their limited resources.
"Developed countries such as the United States and Australia cannot protect themselves from the Ebola virus by retreating behind their borders," Professor Inglis said.
"The threat posed by a few imported cases of Ebola is low: Australia has the procedures, resources and facilities here to minimise the risk of secondary infection.
"And other developed countries are willing to accept that risk because they understand the crucial and urgent need to tackle the outbreak in Africa.
"Mathematical models predict that transmission will continue for many months, even if the rate of expansion levels out soon.
"The real issue is that the threat to Australia, the US and other developed countries will be much higher in six months. The best defence is to act now and in Africa."
Professor Inglis concludes the article by stating that past experience had shown effective infection control needed a strong grounding in science.
"Scientists are needed at the front line. The risk is worth it," he said.