This post is made with all due respect and condolences to those families affected. So…Have you noticed that we’re not talking about the Ebola virus anymore? This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. It seems as if our community goes through this every year; remember bird flu and swine flu? Probably not.
Let’s update you on the latest information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the impact of the Ebola virus in the United States.
- At least twenty cases have been treated in Europe and the United States. Many of the affected were health and aid workers who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were transported back to their home countries for treatment.
- Of the ten treated in the United States, eight have recovered, and two died. The latest patient in the United States to have the disease arrived on Nov. 15 and died three days later while being treated in a biocontainment center in Omaha. As a reminder and means of comparison, there were over 35,000 deaths last year from influenza.
So there are a few points to be made regarding the national obsession with Ebola.
- Ebola virus was never going to be a massive epidemic. Once the threat was known, the fact that the disease prominently announces its arrival through its symptoms made it easily diagnosed by competent medical personnel.
- The chances of an infected and unrecognized person infected with Ebola making it to the U.S. through commercial air travel were always infinitesimal. One unintentional case of the millions traveling since the onset of the Ebola outbreak in Africa remains statistically impressive.
- Over $100 million in medical support is being provided by the WHO and CDC to combat this outbreak. The efforts to prevent and contain within the United States were massive. It was always fair to say that once the threat became real, it was the beginning of the end of the threat. In fact, the head of the CDC states that the estimated time to defeat the outbreak was within 3-6 months.
So as attention heads in other directions, be reminded that many diseases even more deadly than Ebola virus are present in hospitals across the country. I’d suggest you remember two points around that fact.
You have a massive public health infrastructure in place meant to prevent, identify and treat deadly diseases. Many disease that once wiped out massive numbers of us now are rendered to the study of medical history.
You have a role in maintaining your own safety, because despite it all, Ebola still exists and is still taking lives, particularly back in Africa. The point here is for all such diseases, healthy habits, including obtaining recommended immunizations, hand washing, avoid risky behaviors involving transfer of blood and other bodily fluids, and getting prompt medical attention when appearing sick is a relatively simple set of tasks to ensure your health.
We end this post as we have previously with this reminder of early comments from the Director of the CDC:
- “Although it will not be quick and it will not be easy, we do know how to stop Ebola.”
- “Ebola poses little risk to the U.S. general population.”
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