Ebola, formally known as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, was first discovered in 1976 in parts of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nzara and Yambuku are more than 7,000 miles from the United States. The latest outbreak of Ebola came from the west coast of Africa in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The collective American attitude is that Ebola is over there. How sad. But if it were in America, we would know how to stop it. Right?
Within the last few weeks, the U.S. has experienced its first Ebola fatality. 42-year-old Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian, died Wed. Oct. 8 Texas hospital. Duncan’s death has caused many to raise questions about the safety and protection of Americans. He travelled from Liberia to Dallas on an international flight several weeks ago. Shortly after his return, he became ill and was taken to a hospital emergency room. Surprisingly, Duncan was given some medicine and sent home to rest.
Ebola is an extremely contagious virus that spreads through direct contact with infected bodily fluids such as blood, secretions, human organs, etc. Ebola can also be contracted by contact with infected bodily fluids found in clothing, bedding and on surfaces. It is not spread through the air like the common flu.
America’s response to the Ebola threat is led by The Center Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mission of the CDC is “to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S.” The mission of the NIH is “to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems, to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce illness and disability.”
The CDC has medical professionals, scientists and doctors working around the clock to ensure that every precaution is taken to contain and annihilate the virus. In fact, because the CDC has been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to respond to the Ebola outbreak in Africa, the U.S. has benefitted from that experience now that it has reached America.
The three reasons the Ebola outbreak in African countries has been difficult to stop are due to a poor health care system, few medical professionals and the fear and lack of a public health information system. The directors of both the CDC and NIH have been speaking publicly and granting numerous interviews to help quell public fear.
“I understand this can be deeply troubling news, but there are distinct differences in what will happen here,” said CDC director Thomas Frieden.
The CDC and NIH, in cooperation with WHO, have contributed to the development of treatment protocols, standards and new drugs that have begun to be tested to combat Ebola. More importantly are the standards that protect the healthcare workers who courageously work with these infected patients.
“I’m not going to promise that we can stop this at just one case,” Frieden said. “But I can tell you we have the advantage because the right steps are being taken.”
Frieden announced Tues. Oct. 14 that the CDC will provide medical specialists, resources, containment units and other materials to assist the treatment in order to stop the spread of Ebola.