Ebola in the US: Why you shouldn’t worry

Earlier this week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed a patient in Texas is being treated for Ebola virus. The individual, Thomas Eric Duncan,…

Should Americans worry after first Ebola diagnosis in U.S? (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Earlier this week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed a patient in Texas is being treated for Ebola virus. The individual, Thomas Eric Duncan, arrived in the United States about a month ago from Liberia to visit relatives. When he started to develop symptoms of Ebola, he was taken to a hospital and eventually placed in isolation.

SEE ALSO: CDC confirms first case of Ebola in the US

The most recent report from the L.A. Times indicates between 80 and 100 people are now under Ebola surveillance for having come in contact with Duncan. Thankfully, none of those individuals have traveled out of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area. Even if they had, however, experts indicate Ebola in the United States will not end up like Ebola in West Africa.

Why aren’t officials more concerned about Ebola in the U.S.?

There’s no doubt about it; Ebola can affect anyone, of any age, at any time. It is a fast-spreading virus with a high mortality rate, and it has already claimed the lives of thousands of people in West Africa. But despite all those factors, officials in the United States seem to be lacking when it comes to concern for the public; outcry from the masses went up when President Obama recently declined to restrict air travel due to Ebola, but the decision remains in place, and to some it seems like the government is turning a deaf ear to the public’s concerns.

Despite how it looks, there are some reasons why Ebola in the United States isn’t causing a state of panic.

First, when it comes to airline restrictions, several world health agencies have indicate this precaution isn’t one likely to make a difference in the spread of Ebola.

A person with the virus is only contagious when they are showing symptoms, and most people showing symptoms would be too ill to travel. In addition to this, though some concern has been raised the virus has the potential to become airborne, it is not currently, so the only mode of transmission are through direct contact with a sick person’s bodily fluids. The chances that someone severely ill with Ebola would board a plane and then sneeze on, or otherwise pass fluid to, the person next to them are slim–though not impossible.

“At this point, there is zero risk of transmission on the flight,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in regards to Duncan on Tuesday. “The illness of Ebola would not have gone on for 10 days before diagnosis. He was checked for fever before getting on the flight, and there’s no reason to think that anyone on the flight that he was on would be at risk.”

Restricting air travel would also seriously impact the amount of foreign aid making it into West Africa, something the Ebola-devastated countries there cannot afford right now.

But now that Ebola is in the United States, shouldn’t the public be concerned?

The answer to this is yes and no. Awareness of Ebola is key when it comes to treating it promptly, and treating it promptly is key to survival. The U.S. is acutely aware of what is going on in West Africa, so all medical staff across the country are on high alert. The public is also concerned, and therefore people will be visiting hospitals in droves to make sure they don’t have Ebola when they are feeling ill.

Even if Ebola does start to slowly make appearances across the country, hospitals have been preparing for the illness since reports West Africa was experiencing an outbreak. The country has all the necessary supplies and staff it needs to treat people and prevent the spread of the disease. The same cannot be said in West Africa, where medical infrastructure is minimal–if present at all. In fact, most of the aid for Ebola there is being facilitated by Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian outfit comprised of volunteers. They are poorly staffed, and are in desperate need of supplies. Some treatment centers are so overwhelmed they are turning people away because they simply have nowhere to put them.

SEE ALSO: Is there a way to boost your chances of surviving Ebola?

The U.S. has all the latest technology and all the means needed to prevent Ebola from hit epidemic levels like those in West Africa.

Even though the United States isn’t at a high risk for Ebola virus spread, people still need to be aware and concerned with the health of the global population.

“If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” President Obama said last month. “That has profound effects on all of us, even if we are not directly contracting the disease.”

First case of Ebola in the US

Map shows Ebola victim flight across Atlantic. (credit: AP reports)