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Should we be worried about the first U.S. Ebola case?

By Anonymous September 30, 2014 - 4:49pm
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The CDC just confirmed the 1st case of Ebola in the U.S. The patient is quarantined in a Dallas hospital and the CDC say they are confident the case will be controlled, but can it spread? Should we be worried?

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EmpowHER Guest

Hi Pat,

Thank you for this extremely helpful answer! That's very reassuring to know the risk of it spreading in the U.S. is low and that precautions have already been taken.

It will be interesting to see next developments for a cure or vaccine as Ebola has taken a huge hit in recent months.

Thanks again for the helpful answer!

September 30, 2014 - 10:18pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Anonymous, and thanks for bringing this timely question to EmpowHER!

We have all seen the news stories about the Ebola virus and the impact this deadly disease is having in Africa. It is natural to wonder about whether there is a risk of this virus spreading to others in the United States, including you.

First , rest assured that public health officials have been doing a lot more than just watching the news about this. They work in a coordinated national network, involving every state in the country, on a regular basis to protect the public health and prevent disease. Plans and protocols are already in place to protect the public and reduce risk.

As you stated, the first Ebola patient in the US is now being treated at a Dallas hospital. According to a news release from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the individual traveled to Dallas from Liberia. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.

Ebola is contagious only if the person is experiencing active symptoms. The person reported developing symptoms several days after the return flight.

“Ebola can be scary. But there’s all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading. The United States has a strong health care system and public health professionals who will make sure this case does not threaten our communities,” said CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “While it is not impossible that there could be additional cases associated with this patient in the coming weeks, I have no doubt that we will contain this.”

CDC has been anticipating and preparing for a case of Ebola in the United States. Actions taken include:

  • Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases
  • Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations
  • Providing recommendations for  healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
  • Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
  • Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners

The data health officials have seen in the past few decades since Ebola was discovered indicate that it is not spread through casual contact or through the air. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period.

There is very little direct risk to you, Anonymous. The real risk is fear of the unknown. If you have children you may want to initiate a discussion with them and reassure them that they will be safe. You can find get more information about Ebola from the CDC.

Let us know if this is helpful and if you have additional questions. Thanks for looking out for your health!



September 30, 2014 - 6:33pm
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