Two cases of Ebola in the United States have been diagnosed by the CDC.
by: Maria Vasquez, News Editor
The first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States was Thomas Eric Duncan, a 42-year-old Liberian native. He died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse who took care of Duncan, has become the first person to contract the disease in the Unites States.
The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has been the worst on record. According to the World Health Organization, there were two outbreaks of Ebola in 1976. This deadly virus has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Duncan’s home country, Liberia. According to WHO, these countries are the most affected because they “have very weak health systems, lacking human and infrastructural resources, having only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability.”
As more people die from Ebola, many are concerned about contracting the virus. The Center for Disease Control states that Ebola symptoms include “fevers greater than 101.5°F, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising.” WHO states that the virus can spread “through human-to-human transmission via direct contact … with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.”
The Washington Post wrote, “nearly two-thirds of Americans are concerned about a widespread Ebola epidemic in the United States.” The chances of an epidemic occurring in the United States is very low. Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, says that “the death rate would be lower in the U.S.” if Ebola were to become widespread in the United States. “The mortality rate from the virus would likely be lower than it is in West Africa.” This is based on the quality and availability of health care in the United States compared to West Africa.
“We know that even in Africa, [the] mortality rate is very different if you’re able to get care versus if you’re not able to get care,” said Dr. Saul Hymes, a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital in New York.
Though there are very hard facts that Ebola cannot spread throughout the United States, there might be some students at Valley College concerned with what could happen if an outbreak did occur.
“If a student [or staff] contracted Ebola, I would hope faculty calls the CDC and [Valley] is shut down until it is cleared that it is safe to be on campus,” said Nancy Mendez, a 19-year-old criminal studies major.
Despite the fact that Ebola has been in the Unites States for almost a month, Valley does not have a plan of prevention.
“I currently don’t have any information,” said Valley College president Dr. Erika Endrijonas. “If we are doing any sort of prevention, treatment, education plan… I don’t know that we are.”