Ebola In The United States: How Bad Will It Get?

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Ebola has killed over 4,000 people in West Africa and thousands of others have been infected by the virus.

Even worse, the virus has spread to the United States.

Last week a Liberian man flew to Dallas and tested positive for Ebola.

Although he was quarantined at a hospital in Dallas and was receiving treatment for the illness, he died just ten days after testing positive for the virus.

Over the weekend a nurse who was caring for the patient became ill and tested positive for Ebola.

Another nurse tested positive for the virus this week and revealed that she had been visiting family in Ohio and had been on a flight just a day before she began having symptoms of the virus.

Health officials are monitoring everyone who could have come into contact with the infected nurses, but these two new cases of Ebola have everyone worried that the disease will become as bad in the United States as it currently is in West Africa.

Experts are saying that won’t happen and have offered several reasons why.

For starters, one of the reasons the disease has spread so quickly and so vastly throughout West Africa is because of the way the remains of the dead are handled. In Africa it is tradition for the relatives of the dead to wash the body before it is buried.

This puts more people in close contact with the infection and makes it more likely for the blood and body fluids of the infected body to come in contact with the people washing it.

Another reason the disease has spread so badly in Africa is because many of the infected people do no trust healthcare workers and are either refusing treatment and quarantine or are hiding the fact that they have the virus, thus infecting other people.

According to the CDC, the spread of Ebola to the two nurses should have been prevented, but was not unexpected and while there could be other healthcare workers who test positive for the virus over the next few weeks, it is not likely it will spread to a large number of people.

The United States is much more equipped to monitor, treat and quarantine the infected and prevent the spread of the disease to a large population.

Furthermore, if there is a widespread outbreak of Ebola in the United States, the survival rate will likely be much higher than what it is in West Africa. The United States has better treatment options and while there is no known cure or treatment for the actual virus, there are ways to treat the symptoms and increase a patient’s chance of survival.

Hospitals are capable of providing intravenous fluids and restoring clotting capabilities in patients who are hemorrhaging. These treatments can give the immune system the help it needs to fight the virus.

"We have sufficient diagnostic and therapeutic health resources to interrupt the transmission of this virus, just as we do [for] many other viruses," said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. "If there is another case of Ebola in the U.S., It's not going to spread widely," he added. "It's not going to imbed itself in our population. We won't get a problem in Dallas or Duluth similar to what's happening in Monrovia [Liberia]."