Well, it has arrived folks.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been warning us for some time that Ebola would eventually reach our shores, and now it has. In Dallas, Texas a patient is receiving treatment for the terrifying virus — and fears of an Ebola epidemic on American soil are starting to percolate.
“The patient is an adult with a recent history of travel to West Africa,” said the Texas Department of State Health Services, in a statement on Tuesday. “The patient developed symptoms days after returning to Texas from West Africa and was admitted into isolation on Sunday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.”
There has been a lot of speculation about what could occur next, but the likelihood of an outbreak on American soil still seems remote.
Officials on Tuesday said they are confident that standard procedures for controlling an infection can contain Ebola in the United States. The C.D.C. is sending experts to Texas to trace anyone who may have come in contact with the patient while he was sick with symptoms.
Doctors across the country are being reminded to ask for the travel history of anybody who comes in with a fever. Patients who have been to West Africa are being screened and tested if there seems to be a chance they have been exposed.
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.
Whether or not the possibility of a major Ebola outbreak is likely here in the US – there are today thousands of people dealing with the reality of Ebola in their lives. Please do what you can to support the relief groups who are working hard to stop the virus in West Africa. These are real people dealing with real suffering and heartbreak and we can help.