Ebola Comes to the US

This is why I agree with the President that we have to devote as many resources as we can to fighting Ebola.

A patient being treated at a Dallas hospital is the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, health officials announced Tuesday.

The unidentified man left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At that time, the individual did not have symptoms. “But four or five days later,” he began to exhibit them, Frieden said. The individual was hospitalized and isolated Sunday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

The CDC is trying to identify his contacts and quarantine them for the week-long incubation period. I hope that this is an isolated case, but my natural pessimism tells me it isn’t.

Right now, the barrier keeping Ebola patients off of airplanes is screening in Africa. We may need to consider something more rigid, especially if the projections of hundreds of thousands of cases is accurate. Screening people getting off of planes who have been to Western Africa within the last two weeks would be a start. I don’t think we need extreme measures like banning travel from Africa or quarantine … yet. But this is a warning. Let’s not ignore it.

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  1. Xetrov

    Three reasons why the threat of this in the US is being overblown:

    1) Ebola is not spread like the common cold or flu. You have to come into direct contact with the person’s bodily fluids to get the disease.

    2) Infected people are only contagious after they are showing symptoms, not during the incubation period.

    3) The only reason it has been able to spread as far as it has in Africa is because of their deplorable quality of medical care. It doesn’t have a chance of spreading like that in the US.

    Malaria kills more people every year than have ever died from Ebola. I’m much more worried about mosquitoes bringing that to the US than I am about Ebola.

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  2. Hal_10000 *

    Good points, Xetrov. I agree with all of them. However, Ebola has a potential that Malaria doesn’t: a 50% or greater mortality rate. Malaria is endemic and very widespread. There is a fear that Ebola might become endemic to West Africa.

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  3. Xetrov

    The fatality rate of the disease in the US thus far is 0% out of three known cases (now four). The first two people brought here with the disease were treated with fluids, broad spectrum antibiotics, some experimental drug, and after they were cured they were released. The third, a doctor, is still alive and being treated at Emory Hospital. If it spread here, yeah, most likely some people are going to die. But not at the rate they do in Africa.

    I think it’s a terrible disease, and we definitely need to study it and try to find a way to kill it reliably – if it went airborn (like in the movie “Outbreak”) we would be in some deep shit. But sending military personnel over there, or dropping everything to combat it is not needed, IMO.

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  4. Nexus

    “This is why I agree with the President that we have to devote as many resources as we can to fighting Ebola.”

    Granted, but it’s also a reason we should have way better control over our boarders.

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  5. Hal_10000 *

    Granted, but it’s also a reason we should have way better control over our boarders.

    Did you mean borders or boarders? Either way, I agree.

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  6. Iconoclast

    The utter incompetence boggles the mind — a second health worker who provided care for Patient Zero has contracted the disease, and was given a green light to fly a commercial airline while having symptoms.

    You may say it’s overblown, that the virus cannot spread here the way it has in Africa, but these reassurances are easily offset by our utterly incompetent and downright careless government. It’s almost as if the powers that be want an epidemic here in the USA.

    Letting a sick healthcare worker fly while symptomatic is criminally negligent.

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  7. Iconoclast

    Seriously, terrorists don’t need to dicker around with anthrax or any other bio-agents. They can just sit back and let our own fucking government do all the heavy lifting of putting American citizens at risk.

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