WILL Pooley, the British nurse in Sierra Leone who has openly criticised as “woefully slow” the international response to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, appears to have exposed an uncomfortable truth.

Ebola was first identified in Africa in 1976 – almost 40 years ago. As long ago as 1997, the History Channel broadcast a documentary on the Black Death of the Middle Ages, which included a consideration of Ebola. Unlike the Black Death, Ebola is a virus and, as such, it is not treatable by antibiotics. The programme concluded with the chilling words: “Only time will tell if the Black Death [which killed 40m people] was an isolated catastrophe in history or an ominous portent of modern plagues to come.”

One must inevitably ask why, faced with a disease capable of proving even more devastating than the Black Death, medical science has seemingly ignored this “modern plague” for so long? - Andrea Gibb, Munces Road, Marlow Bottom