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Ebola The Virus Of Doom?
There is a great deal of concern over Ebola and fear is spreading quicker than the actual disease. Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, was quick to defend to Congress why there had not yet been any travel bans put into place to and from Africa. Are public concerns unfounded? Are we worrying too much? It’s really difficult to know what to think at this point. Should we be concerned? Is this worse than other threats we’ve faced? There is plenty that even the medical professionals don’t have the answers to. Amid all the media frenzy here are five facts to remember.
#1 This is not the first time that We Had Cases of Ebola
Actually, for decades the CDC has been at war with Ebola. In 1975, the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported outbreaks of Ebola in Liberia, Guinea and Uganda. Those outbreaks continue today. In a congresional seminar that took place earlier, Thomas Frieden confirmed that the CDC could control all of the African outbreaks up until this latest one – this is the worst that Africa has ever experienced.
Dr. Vincent Lo Re, who is the , Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania says that this really isn’t anything new. Previously in 1989 monkeys with Ebola were found in Reston, Virgina. The virus was contained at an animal reservoir causing an infection in US macques. While there was no threat to US citizens it did bring attention to the potential for an Ebola outbreak.
#2 Without close contact with bodily fluids it is hard to catch
Close contact with vomit, feces or blood is how you catch Ebola, if they enter your mouth, nose, broken skin or eyes. Other fluids that can be infectious are breast milk, tears, saliva, semen and urine. According to Lo RE all of these pose a potential risk. He goes on to say that on an airplane if someone sneezes or coughs their saliva could contain the Ebola virus, which is why the CDC is identifying everyone that was on the same flight as the latest Ebola patient, a woman named Amber Vinson. Can you however will you actually get Ebola from sitting beside someone? The experts say it depends on how close you interact with that person and whether that individual has symptoms. An infected person is only able to transmit the virus once they have symptoms of vomiting, fever or diarrhea. There is a 21 day incubation period, so it can take up to 21 days after being exposed. The only cases that have developed within the USA to date are Vinson and Nina Pham, who are both health care workers. Since they are front line workers in handling Ebola patients they are at a much greater risk.
#3 Ebola symptoms resemble the symptoms of the flu
Ebola symptoms are just like flu symptoms – vomiting, coughs, body aches, fever of 101.5 F or higher, headache, diarrhea and stomach pain. With flu season just around the corner there is the potential for mass hysteria as people aren’t sure whether they have the flu or Ebola. The Penn Presbyterian Medical Center members say what they will be watching for is whether a person with symptoms has been to any of the outbreak areas in West Africa (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia). CDC is trying to assure people that if they have flu like symptoms and they have not been to the outbreak areas or in contact with anyone from the outbreak areas, then it is likely they simply have the flu.
#4 Ebola is recoverable from
With all the mass hysteria, it is easy to lose focus and forget that you can actually recover from Ebola. About 4,400 people in Africa have died from Ebola this year. The WHO says that typically the death rate is 60% to 90%, but within the US that rate is much lower, likely because of the full critical care support that those affected receive. There have also been recoveries in Africa and the WHO really doesn’t know why some people survive and why some don’t.
#5 Your risk of catching Ebola in the USA is very low
Lo Re says, “I think that if you have questions, it’s important to call your primary care physician to help resolve any of those doubts.” Take precautions, use the same rules as you would for any other kind of sickness, wash your hands often, avoid contact with bodily fluids of someone who is sick.