“Brace Yourself, Ebola is Coming.”

BY JASON LITTLE – Ebola, also known as the hemorrhagic fever is a rare and lethal disease caused by an infection of the Filoviridae virus.[1] Ebola originated in isolated villages in Central Africa, with the current outbreak migrating to countries in West Africa.[2] The virus can be contracted from wild animals with high rates of human-to-human transmission.[3]

On October 8, 2014, The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared an Ebola Virus Outbreak in West Africa.[4] The committee stated that the outbreak in West Africa is an “extraordinary event” and advised a public health concern to all countries outside of West Africa.[5] The committee further expressed that the possible consequences of international spread are particularly serious, and a coordinated international response is deemed necessary to contain and stop the international spread of Ebola.[6] The WHO has positioned states in three different categories: states with Ebola transmission, states with a potential or confirmed Ebola case, and all states.

The United States first experienced Ebola on September 20th, 2014. Thomas Duncan was diagnosed with the first case of Ebola in the U.S. Duncan arrived in Dallas, Texas on September 20th after leaving his home in Liberia, and was later admitted to Texas Presbyterian Hospital on September 28th for an unknown sickness.[7] After being diagnosed with Ebola two days later, Duncan eventually lost his life becoming the first fatality to Ebola in the U.S.[8] On September 12, 2014, a health worker at Texas Presbyterian Hospital contracted Ebola believed to come from contact with Thomas Duncan.[9] The worker was one of seventy health workers who took care of Duncan.[10] While she had worn protective gear as advised, the extensive contact with Mr. Duncan lead to a confirmed Ebola transmission.[11]

Ever since Duncan was diagnosed, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published a response to the event.[12] The CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center and warned U.S. citizens against nonessential travel to West African nations. However, five individuals infected with Ebola internationally have been airlifted to the U.S. for treatment.[13] The transferability of the Ebola becomes an ever-present problem with new transmission and treatment of Ebola in the U.S.

As Ebola awareness is at an all-new high, five airports with assistance from the CDC have installed special screening areas to stop anyone suspected of having the Ebola virus from traveling to the U.S.[14] This includes screening all individuals arriving from specific West African countries, questionnaires, non-contact body temperature testing, and further examination of anyone suspected of harboring the virus based on the foregoing criteria.

The U.S. needs to take additional and all precautions available to limit and eradicate the spread of the Ebola virus. With the first confirmed transmission taking place in the U.S, The WHO has declared that numerous avenues be taken to fight the spread of Ebola. First, the head of state needs to declare a national emergency and take time to address the situation with the public.[15] Furthermore, the WHO suggests that immediate emergency financing should be initiated to insure a successful response to Ebola is taken.[16] Because of the transmission of one person to another is rather quick and timely, the U.S. needs to take a proactive step in halting further transmission. Instead of following the WHO’s recommendations, the U.S. has decided to perform special screening units at five airports and continue to tell the populace that Ebola is hard to contract. Having brief health screens while entering airports is not enough. It only takes one breach of hospital protocol for one or numerous medical professionals to become infected with the Filioviridae virus. If the U.S. does not take swift action, the Ebola virus could become far too familiar for the U.S. populace.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/about.html

[2] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

[3] Id.

[4] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2014/ebola-20140808/en/

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/10/08/dallas-ebola-patient-dies/16786011/

[8] Id.

[9] http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/12/health/ebola/index.html

[10] http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article3357036.html

[11] Id.

[12] http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/united-states-imported-case.html

[13] http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/06/health/american-ebola-patients/

[14] http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/10/08/354596351/white-house-says-u-s-airports-will-institute-new-ebola-screening-procedures

[15] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2014/ebola-20140808/en/

[16] Id.

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