Ebola Outbreak: Epidemic or Panic?
Originating in West Africa, Ebola has entered the U.S., resulting in what some experts are calling the worst Ebola epidemic in history.
Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates.
It is known to start in animals such as bats and can be transmitted to humans.
Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa, including the most recent outbreak which appears to have started in West Africa in early 2014.
However, it hit home when on Sept. 30, 2014, the CDC confirmed the first travel-associated case of Ebola in the U.S.
The patient traveled from West Africa to Dallas, coming in contact with approximately 48 people during his travels home.
The patient did not show symptoms until four days after arriving in the United States from West Africa.
The patient died early on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 8, from the deadly disease.
The question we should all be asking ourselves is how did this spread to the U.S. and how could it have been prevented?
The government and the CDC both knew of the extreme contagiousness of the epidemic.
However, no precautionary measures were set in place to stop it from entering our country.
Now that it is too late and the disease is in the U.S., the government has ordered that precautionary measures be put in place.
U.S. Homeland Security and the CDC have now ordered an exit screening for anyone leaving one of the following areas: Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.
Passengers must answer questions regarding possible exposure and also have their temperature taken.
The issue at hand is that this standard was not set as a guideline until after the disease festered into the U.S.
The outbreak has been actively increasing in seriousness since early August.
The same seriousness the government should have put forth toward the matter.
I am not saying that closing down an entire country or airport is the answer, because that is a quick way to cause panic throughout the citizens of our country.
However, had we laid out exact regulations at the airports where citizens were exiting from, this could have been prevented.
Regulating who had the ability to leave airports from those areas or appropriate Ebola testing could have stopped the spread of the disease.
That one man, the man who contracted the disease in Africa, has now turned into two others contracting the disease, both female nurses who cared for him during his time in the hospital.
A committee hearing took place on Thursday, Oct. 16, and among those present was Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC and Prevention director.
The issue at hand is that the CDC is pointing fingers at the government and the government is pointing fingers at the hospitals and quite frankly no one knows what is going on.
“We did send some expertise in infection control” to Dallas, he said, “but I think we could in retrospect, with 20/20 hindsight, we could have sent a more robust hospital infection-control team and been more hands on with the hospital from day one about how exactly this should be managed,” said Frieden.
Our best hope is that the government starts preparing better for large scale disasters, because this very well could turn into one.
Precaution in an epidemic is key.