Ebola Outbreak Reaches US: How Much Should We Have to Worry?
By Bacilio Bencosme, Photography Editor
With confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the first Ebola case in the United States late September, people have begun to worry about how the deadly virus can affect their lives.
A Texas resident by the name of Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed in Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas after having being transported by ambulance. The patient had gone to the hospital before being diagnosed but was given medication and released. Initially, there was thought to be 18-20 people known to have come in contact with the Ebola patient, but ABC News says that Dallas Health Director Zack Thompson told ABC News affiliate WFAA that 80 people are being interviewed that may have come into contact with the Virus.
Ebola is a very serious virus that has been affecting people in Africa for years in places such as Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria where all together around 2,100 people have died this year alone. Ebola is a ferocious disease as it is affecting people in West Africa way more severely because Africa has a very weak health care system. The US hasn't had any casualties from Ebola while Africa has had thousands this year.
Africa is a continent with very limited resources and treatment for such disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “It is a deadly disease that includes symptoms of high fever, severe headaches, muscle pain, abdominal pain, and unexplained hemorrhage.” With symptoms this severe, people have a right to be worried for themselves and
So should Americans worry about an outbreak? Can the Ebola Virus easily be transmitted? It was only until now when the virus came to the US that America seems very interested in preventing the Virus from spreading. The Washington Post wrote an article “Ebola Panic in America May Save Lives in Africa” about how the panic in America might actually benefit the world because of the awareness it is creating. “Protecting the health of Americans will probably start by saving the lives of thousands of people in West Africa,” said the article. It makes sense that a nation as well-developed as America will make efforts to save its population which will also help West Africans in preventing the Virus from spreading to other areas of the world where the technology isn't available to treat the Virus as it is happening in Africa.
As of now, the Ebola Virus is not airborne but can still be transmitted by human interaction. According to the World Health Organization, “People can be exposed to Ebola virus from direct physical contact with body fluids like blood, saliva, stool, urine, sweat etc. of an infected person and soiled linen used by a patient.It can be spread through contact with objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected secretions.”
Even though the airborne factor is not a present problem, it can become one very soon. According to Anthony Banbury, Head of the United Nations’s Ebola Mission, the Ebola virus can mutate over time and become airborne. “The longer it moves around in human hosts in the virulent melting pot that is West Africa, the more chances increase that it could mutate. It is a nightmare scenario, and unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out.”
It definitely is a scary situation, but even with dealing with current realities, the CDC is taking action. They claim on their website that they are activating its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in order to help coordinate technical assistance and disease control activities with partners. They also Issued a Warning, Level 3 notice which warns Americans to avoid any non-essential travel to West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. They are also advising for advanced precautions for those traveling to Nigeria.
Because the first American Ebola case came from West Africa by airplane, the CDC is working with airport staff and providing information to airline crew members and staff so they can work efficiently. As for the airlines and airports, the CDC is also helping provide special screenings and travel restrictions in the affected areas in order to catch anybody with the virus and avoid the further spread of it as well.
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