by Cate Tauriello
The first person in the United States has been diagnosed with Ebola and is currently in a hospital in Dallas, Texas.
Initially, and understandably, it’s kind of scary to know you’re in the same nation as someone with the Ebola virus. Thousands of cases have been recorded throughout Western Africa in the past few months. It mainly affects Liberia and Sierra Leone at this point. In 1976, the second worst year of Ebola outbreak was the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The outbreak is so out of control in Africa because it’s hard to contain so many infected bodily fluids like vomit and blood. Family members are usually infected by taking care of the Ebola patient or burying an infected body. The crews are recognizable with white jumpsuits covering the head, goggles and gas masks, teal-colored gloves, and shoes with covers over them.
And while we know some things for a fact about the patient in the United States, there’s also some things we don’t know.
Things we know:
- The patient is 42 year old Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian National.
- Duncan is currently in the U.S.
- Duncan traveled from a flight from Liberia.
- Duncan did NOT have any symptoms upon boarding the flight back to the U.S.
- The CDC said that the patient has been in contact with, at the most, 18 individuals, at least five of them are children from four different schools.
- The children who were in contact with Ebola-infected Duncan are being closely monitored.
- Three members of the crew from the hospital who transported the patient via ambulance have tested negative for the Ebola virus. Security officials, including the TSA and anyone at the airport have not been tested with the virus because the patient did not have symptoms Ebola at the time.
Things we don’t know:
- The flight he was on, commercial or private.
- What type of contact the patient had with others.
- The symptoms the patient is experiencing in his current state.
Ebola also doesn’t get transmitted through the air like other viruses like the flu. It really can only be transmitted through bodily fluids. This virus also cannot be transmitted before symptoms are apparent. So if you were to come in contact with someone who currently has Ebola, but you were in contact with the person PRIOR to their symptoms, you do NOT have Ebola.
There also isn’t a lot to worry about with the person in America with the virus. Yes, it’s bad that he has the virus and it’s in the nation. But it is not the first American with the virus. Two doctors, who survived after treatment, returned to the U.S. with the virus back in August of this year. They are doing perfectly well since their return and time in hospitals in Georgia and Nevada.
So while it’s a little scary to hear about with different headlines telling you “EBOLA IS HERE,” don’t freak out. It would take a long time for the virus to travel across the nation and we have millions of doctors who are here to learn from diseases and help treat others.