The current outbreak of Ebola virus in Dallas has people all over the United States panicked about the possibility of Ebola coming to their hometown.
Apparently, the person who contracted Ebola did so while in Liberia, then traveled to the United States without symptoms. According to Centers for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden, four or five days afterward, the patient became symptomatic and went to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. The Ebola patient is “critically ill at this point,” Friedan told CBS. Most troubling, the patient went to the emergency room on Thursday but was sent back home with an antibiotic, then had to call an ambulance on Sunday. In the interim, the symptomatic patient could have passed along the disease.
Here’s what you need to know about Ebola: what it looks like, how it is transmitted, and what the chances are that you will be confronted with it.
Symptoms. According to the CDC, symptoms look a lot like the flu – a particularly troublesome problem given that we are now entering flu season. The CDC lists the following symptoms, which generally appear within 8 to 10 days after exposure to Ebola:
- Fever of above 101.5°F;
- Severe headache;
- Muscle pain;
- Abdominal pain;
- Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising).
Treatment. If you come down with these symptoms, go to a hospital immediately. There is no antibiotic treatment or vaccine for Ebola virus; essentially, your immune system is the only defense against Ebola virus. Once you are placed in isolation, you will likely be given intravenous fluids to ensure that you do not become dehydrated; secondary infections could be treated with antibiotics.
Transmission. The only way to contract Ebola is to come into direct contact with blood or bodily fluids – generally, stool, vomit, semen, or urine. The CDC warns that saliva or sweat or mucus could also transmit Ebola, but the risk of such transmission is slighter than transmission via direct contact with other bodily fluids. Use of infected needles could also transmit Ebola virus. In the United States, the threat of contracting Ebola from animals is minimal. Those most at risk are hospital workers, particularly if they are not wearing hand covering, eye covering, or masks. Once someone has been infected with Ebola, they can transmit the virus for up to three months.
Will You Confront Ebola? The chances of you seeing Ebola breakouts on the streets of your cities are extraordinarily low. Frieden has said, “We do not anticipate this will spread in the US if an infected person is hospitalized here.” Alerts have gone out to hospitals across the country regarding treatment of those suspected of having contracted Ebola. American hospitals are trained to deal with Ebola, and American medical workers routinely wear gear designed to protect them from transmission of diseases – and Ebola is harder to transmit than other commonly-transmitted serious diseases in the United States, such as tuberculosis.
As I’ve pointed out in this space, the conditions leading to an Ebola outbreak in Africa are significantly different than the conditions in the United States. With that said, the situation in Dallas should put us all on guard regarding Ebola and the necessity for isolation – if hospitals send home those with Ebola, an outbreak becomes a far more real possibility.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.