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What's Up Magazine

Ebola: How Big is the U.S. Threat?

Oct 08, 2014 01:55PM ● By Cate Reynolds
The BBC reports that up to September 30th of this year, 3,439 people have reportedly died from Ebola in four countries: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. The total number of reported cases exceeds 7,400—though the World Health Organization (WHO) admits the figures are underestimated and warns that the total number of cases by November could be as high as 20,000. So far, the Ebola patient in Dallas who passed away on October 8th, is the only fatality in the U.S., and it is important to remember he had recently traveled to Africa. 

News organization around the world are now supplying round-the-clock coverage, and, as the freelance cameraperson recently illustrated, their employees are at risk. [The cameraman suspects he may have gotten infected when he spray-washed a vehicle where someone had died. He did not say why he had been doing that.]

Ebola, importantly, is not a disease one contracts easily. As the Washington Post pointed out, it is much less contagious than measles or influenza. It IS NOT an airborne virus. It is transmitted through bodily fluids. Which means that Ebola IS a sexually transmitted disease. The World Health Organization reports that Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovery from illness.”

Here in Anne Arundel County, experts are calm, but vigilant. A leading epidemiologist affiliated with AAMC, Mary Clance, M.D., further reassures us if the worst should happen: “Anne Arundel Medical Center is well-prepared to care for Ebola Patients. For Ebola, as well as other viruses, such as MERS, a functional travel triage query has been in place. Appropriate risk assessment, immediate isolation, staff education, and communications are the essential elements. Coordination with local EMS, the local health department, and the DHMH [Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene] has been established.”

--Sarah Hagerty