Ebola

1. Is this a U.S. Ebola outbreak? 

No. An outbreak is an "occurrence of cases of disease in excess of what would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area or season."

The Center for Disease Control has confirmed one case of Ebola in a patient who recently travelled from West Africa, where there is an actual epidemic happening. The patient is in isolation and is being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. 

2. Are people in Texas at risk? 

As was noted heavily in Tuesday's CDC briefing, Ebola is not spread through the air. Ebola is spread through contact with bodily fluids including (but not limited to) blood, urine, saliva, feces, vomit, etc.  

Those who had close contact with the patient are being identified by local health officials and will be monitored daily for 21 days following exposure.

Those the patient came in contact with include five school-aged children. 

3. What about people who were on the plane with the patient? 

The disease is not contagious unless someone is displaying symptoms, so as for those who flew with the patient, the CDC "does not recommend that people on the same commercial airline flights undergo monitoring."

4. Now that Ebola is here, is there going to be an outbreak in the United States? 

While the CDC noted that it's possible that more cases of Ebola may appear in the U.S., CDC Director Tom Frieden noted in a statement that he has no doubt the disease will be contained and that U.S. infrastructure and health care is vastly different from Africa. 

"But there’s all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading," he said. 

 

In another release, the CDC noted that U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience containing diseases such as Ebola.

"In the past decade, the United States had five imported cases of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States." 

5. How do I protect myself from Ebola?

Unless you plan on traveling to areas impacted by the current West African outbreak, you have very little to worry about. If you are, visit the CDC website for the latest updates

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