The worst Ebola outbreak in history has reached America’s heartland, as a man in Dallas has been diagnosed with the deadly virus, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) confirmed.
The man reportedly caught Ebola in Liberia and flew out of the country Sept. 19, arriving in the US the next day. He began feeling sick Sept. 25 and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 28.
It’s the first time that a person unknowingly brought Ebola into the country. There is no cure for Ebola, and in Africa the fatality rate is around 70 percent.
“The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or this case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden told the media. “It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual could develop Ebola in the coming weeks. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here.”
But nothing about this outbreak – which has killed more than 3,000 in Africa – has gone as the CDC planned. On Wednesday, officials were monitoring a second person in Dallas who may have contracted Ebola.
Following are five facts about the outbreak you may not know:
1. The CDC has been wrong about Ebola, over and over. In July a CDC spokesperson told reporters, “No Ebola cases have been reported in the United States and the likelihood of this outbreak spreading outside of West Africa is very low.” It’s now in the United States. The CDC also keeps revising its predictions. On Sept. 19, the CDC was saying there could be 500,000 cases of Ebola by the end of January. Four days later, the CDC said the case load could reach 1.4 million – nearly triple what it said the previous week. The CDC believes the number of cases could double every 20 days.
(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth report, “How To Survive The Coming Ebola Pandemic,” here.)
2. The United States and the world are not prepared to fight Ebola. That’s the conclusion of many experts, who say governments are moving way too slow. “Without a massive increase in the response, way beyond what is being planned in scale and urgency … it will prove impossible to bring this epidemic under control,” outbreak experts Jeremy Farrar and Peter Piot wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine. The United States Sept. 16 promised 3,000 soldiers and other supplies to West Africa, but by the end of the month, only about 175 troops had arrived.
Michael T. Osterholm — the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota – wrote that “donor countries and organizations are operating on ‘program or bureaucracy time,’ while the epidemic is unfolding on ‘virus time.’
“Thirty days of planning to deliver on-the-ground support might be considered lightning speed to a foreign aid officer, but it is an eternity for a virus being transmitted by physical contact between many people living in intensely crowded conditions,” he wrote in Politico.
Osterholm said “we are failing miserably at containing Ebola.”
Additionally, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report in early September saying DHS is ill-prepared to fight a pandemic. Its hand sanitizer stock has expired, and agencies don’t know where to find their personal protective equipment, the report said.
3. The United States does not want to halt flights from West Africa. Despite the threat of Ebola spreading from West Africa, the United States has not imposed travel restrictions. But other countries have done so. South Africa says all noncitizens from the countries where Ebola is spreading will be turned away – and that South African citizens who travel to the countries will be monitored when they return. Kenya, Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast also have placed severe restriction on traveling to and from the countries in question.
4. The Dallas patient who caught Ebola previously visited the hospital but was released. On Sept. 26 the man went to the same hospital complaining of feeling sick, but was given antibiotics and told to go home. All total, he walked around Dallas for an entire week without knowing he had Ebola, exposing dozens if not hundreds of people.
5. Ebola is spread via bodily fluids, although it could become airborne. At least, that’s what Osterholm is warning. Osterholm wrote in The New York Times, “Viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. … If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.” If you live off the grid, away from large populations and rarely come into contact with other people, you’re likely safe.
CDC issues guidelines
“The CDC recommends that individuals protect themselves by avoiding contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are ill with Ebola,” a statement from the Texas Department of Health Services reads. “[The Texas health department] also encourages health care providers to ask patients about recent travel and consider Ebola in patients with fever and a history of travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and some parts of Nigeria within 21 days of the onset of symptoms.”
Early symptoms associated with the virus include a fever, sore throat, body aches and headaches, so it could easily be mistaken for the flu. It can take up to 21 days for an infected person to develop Ebola.
Do you believe Ebola is a legitimate threat, and do you trust the CDC? Leave your reply in the section below: