Although Ebola is an unarguably scary and deadly virus - boasting a mortality rate around 70% (latest strain) - should we really be worried about the virus in the United States? The virus is absolutely out of control in three West Africa nations (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia) but two other African nations avoided a wide-spread outbreak. Both Nigeria and Senegal have done so well in quelling the spread of the virus that WHO has declared the two nations Ebola-free. Again, should we really be worried about an outbreak in the United States? Experts claim we should absolutely not be concerned.
Americans have a right to be worried about such a dangerous virus - especially after the CDC absolutely botched it's response to the first diagnosed case in the United States. One of the best hospitals in Dallas, Texas also failed to protect its medical staff from contracting the virus as two nurses were recently diagnosed with the deadly virus. Nurse unions claims the hospital had no protocols in place at the time. Regardless of the unacceptable responses from both the CDC and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, a large-scale outbreak, according to experts, is highly unlikely in the United States.
But critics, like Dr. Gil Mobley, claim the CDC is lying about the threat Ebola poses to the United States. The Springfield, Mo based microbiologist and emergency trauma physician made national headlines after he donned protective gear while going through airport security at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Mobley claims the CDC is "sugar-coating" the risk of the virus spreading in the United States. Watch what Mobley has to say about the CDC and Ebola.
Sharyl Attkisson, a respected investigative journalist, has also cast her doubts about the situation and divulged her thoughts on Twitter in a recent string of tweets.
"My take FWIW: President isn't canceling fundraisers & holding cabinet meetings because only 3 people in the US are going to contract Ebola."
Attkisson also claims she has reliable sources who have indicated that the CDC is not being entirely honest about the Ebola situation, in particular - how it is spread.
"Experts: aerosols emitted from the respiratory tract contain a wide distribution of particle sizes-many small enough to be inhaled."
"Experts: 'We believe there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious....aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected patients...healthcare workers should be wearing respirators, not facemasks."
Regardless of what anyone claims about the situation, two West African nations whose healthcare systems pail in comparison to that of the United States, have stopped Ebola from widespread outbreaks. That should instill some confidence for any concerned American. But it should be noted that both countries also instituted strict travel ban restrictions against countries with widespread outbreaks. The United States, so far, has refused to do so claiming that doing so would make the outbreak far worse.
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia remain in an extremely dire situation as Ebola have absolutely devastated all three countries. Sierra Leone and Liberia have both broken out in riots and all three countries have been forced to deploy the military to help control the situation. All three countries an in desperate need of healthcare workers and simply do not have the medical infrastructure to control the virus. Regardless of what anyone thinks about an Ebola outbreak in the United States, the world MUST respond to the needs of West Africa before it creates far reaching consequences for the rest of the world.
Signs and Symptoms of Ebola
According to the CDC symptoms of Ebola are as follows:
-Fever (greater than 101.5°F)
-Severe headache -Muscle pain
-Vomiting -Abdominal (stomach) pain
-Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. It should be noted that Ebola patients will NOT test positive for the virus unless they are showing signs and symptoms.
How is Ebola Transmitted?
The Ebola virus is not an "airborne" virus and is actually relatively difficult to transmit. Ebola is spread through direct contact (open sores, mouth, eyes, nose, etc) with:
- blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
- objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
- Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
The CDC claims the virus cannot be transmitted in any other manner. Transmission of the virus can be prevented by using proper protective equipment (gowns, goggles, gloves, etc) and by using universal precautions and avoiding touching any bodily fluids.
How is Ebola Treated?
The treatment of is actually pretty simple and straightforward. Several experimental drugs have been developed and some, like ZMapp, have shown promise but none have been tested through rigorous clinical trials. ZMapp has been used on two American patients and they both survived. The world's current resources on experimental drugs is reportedly exhausted, at current.
For the time being, healthcare professionals are treating Ebola patients with intravenous fluids, balancing electrolytes, maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating other infections should they occur.
Current Ebola Outbreak Breakdown
Guinea: Infected - 1,519, Deaths - 862 (57% death rate)
Liberia: Infected - 4,249 , Deaths - 2,484 (58% death rate)
Nigeria: Infected - 20, Deaths - 8 (40% death rate) *Who has declared Nigeria Ebola-free
Senegal: Infected - 1, Deaths - 0 (0% death rate) *Who has declared Nigeria Ebola-free
Sierra Leone: Infected - 3,410, Deaths - 1,200 (35% death rate)
United States: Infected - 3, Deaths - 1 (33% death rate)
Spain: Infected - 1, Deaths - 0 (0% death rate)
Total: Infected - 9,203, Deaths - 4,555 (49% death rate)
*data current from the Center for Disease Control as of October 9, 2014
WHO claims the current reported cases most likely underrepresent the breadth and scope of the current outbreak. Many Ebola patients, in West Africa, refuse treatment due to the impending consequences potentially created by the stigma associated with the virus. In addition, many West Africans hold superstitious beliefs both about the nature of the disease and about the governments' response.
WHO has also warned the current outbreak could reach over one million by 2015 if the spread of the virus cannot be mitigated by the health organization interventions.
Sierra Leone has attempted desperate measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. In September, the government ordered a 3 day mandatory quarantine of all citizens by staying in their homes. Read more about the story here.