The first victim diagnosed with Ebola on American soil has caused a frenzy of concern and worry that the disease could spread throughout the United States.
Yet, while the idea of a deadly virus in America is troubling, the chance that the man from Liberia will actually start a mass breakout is rather remote.
Here are some things we know so far about Ebola and its possible spread in the United States.
The victim did not cross America’s southern border
Both Michele Bachmann and Rep. Louie Gohmert have long been preaching that Ebola would soon come from America’s southern border. While the victim ended up in Texas, this is not the case. The visitor to the country flew in from Liberia, arriving in Dallas on September 20 to visit relatives. According to Dr. Thomas R. Frieden of the CDC there is “zero chance” that other passengers on the plane were infected by the man since he was asymptomatic, meaning that those on board will not spread the disease to others at their final U.S. destinations.
There is a risk some people were exposed, but only a handful
According to Dr. Frieden, the man had only a few contacts and his family members were with him when he became ill. Those people will be screened and monitored for signs of illness following a standard protocol the CDC has developed to stop diseases from spreading.
Ebola does not spread like wildfire like in the movies
Getting Ebola is not as easy as most people imagine. According to the New York Times, just because there is the presence of someone with symptoms does not mean disaster will strike. Here is how the paper explains it in their Q&A.
It helps that Ebola does not spread nearly as easily as Hollywood movies about contagious diseases might suggest. In 2008, a patient who had contracted Marburg – a virus much like Ebola – in Uganda was treated at a hospital in the United States and could have exposed more than 200 people to the disease before anyone would have known what she had. Yet no one became sick.
The Texas hospital is prepared to contain the infection
When the first two Ebola victims came back to the U.S. for treatment, many were afraid that the illness would not be contained. The Atlanta hospital, as it turned out, was well prepared. According to the hospital’s epidemiologist, Dr. Edward Goodman, the Dallas hospital where this case will be treated is also ready.
“We have had a plan in place for some time now for a patient presenting with possible Ebola. Ironically, we had a meeting the week before of all the stakeholders who might be involved,” of the work they had done at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. “We were well prepared to care for this patient.”
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