The following description could have just been released from Liberia or Guinea where ebola is taking hold.
It was actually written in London in 1848.
“As the rate of mortality in the area was so high, when the disease so extensively prevailed, it is desirable to offer some explanation of the cause of such mortality; and for this purpose, I may direct your attention to the unusual prevalence of the deaths from the diseases diarrhoea and fever which were very numerous, especially among the poor,....Small-pox, scarlatina, diarrhoea, typhus and erysipelas also prevailed.
“There being a very large and poor population, consisting of numerous Irish in this London district; the severity of the disease and its consequent mortality may be accounted for therein.
“It may be stated, as a general rule, that the more destitute the population, the larger is the rate of mortality, particularly among young children.
"I had on one day about 60 new cases of illness among the pauper population to attend to. As so much has been recently said on the unsatisfactory result of the labours of the numerous persons engaged in the science of preventive medicine—in proof of which it has been alleged that the rate of mortality so high I have deemed it advisable to urgently investigate the matter."
Instead it is the report of a compassionate London doctor and medical officer for the city in 1848 faced with the epidemic of illness and disease that the Irish took with them to England and other countries during the dreadful Great Hunger.
We forget that the million Irish who died didn't just die of starvation. Indeed most died of diseases, most notably cholera, the Ebola of its day, spread when people were packed into slums and clean water was non existent.
So when I see the sense of superiority from some about Africa’s Ebola problem these days I want to point out this article to every Irish American and Irish person and ask them to look back to their great grandfather’s time, just three generations and see we were the ebola victims back then, just as hated and despised as some African nations with sick people are today.
We ran a story yesterday about Ethiopian Airlines flying via Dublin to Los Angeles. Ethiopia is in East Africa thousands of miles far away from the Ebola outbreak. It is a country that had its own devastating famine 30 years ago, but it is now showing significant economic progress.
Nonetheless many came online and on facebook nicknaming the airline Air Ebola and speculating the disease would now enter Ireland through this new route.
Shame on us if we cannot acknowledge our own history and understand the need for compassion like this wonderful English doctor from so long ago who reached out to help the desperate Irish.
We too were the focus of much hate and discrimination in many countries around the world. It is shocking we can forget that fact.
We need to learn from our history not repeat it.