By Jim Hagerty
A recent Ebola outbreak that may have killed as many as 670 in West Africa is not likely to spread to the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports.
In fact, officials say there has never been a case of Ebola spreading to a developed nation.
“This is because people generally transmit the infection when they are very sick, have a high fever and a lot of symptoms,” said Dr. Kamiliny Kalahne, of Doctors Without Borders. “In these situations, they don’t travel.”
When those with symptoms do arrive in developed areas, they are almost always treated with advanced medicine that prevents outbreaks.
The American health system, for example, is better equipped to handle an Ebola outbreak than those in West Africa. Dr. Marty Cetron, of the CDC, says health officials here are able to diagnose a case of the virus and trace points of contact so it doesn’t spread.
“Epidemics of disease are often followed by epidemics of fear and epidemics of stigma,” Cetron said. “All of these things occur in a social context that can make containment very challenging.”
So far, recent cases of Ebola have spread to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa. The outbreak began July 20 when an American citizen working in Nigeria died from the virus. Since July 23, there have been 456 deaths reported. Health officials now fear that over 650 have died.
Ebola, otherwise known as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) and Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), is not contagious until symptoms appear. Once they do, fever, headaches, vomiting and kidney failure can take over and spread quickly to others. Without immediate treatment, the virus has a 59-percent fatality rate. In some cases, the fatality rate is as high as 90 percent.
The way to avoid contracting Ebola and preventing an outbreak is to avoid West African nations until the CDC has eliminated the threat. Those who have traveled to the region are urged to see a doctor immediately.