By Randee May, Staff Writer
While Ebola may not be the most deadly virus that the United States has encountered, it has managed to give people quite the scare, and for good reason. The virus was originally discovered in 1976, and the recent outbreak began in March and is reportedly the largest outbreak on record.
The most publicized case is currently that of Thomas Eric Duncan, which has been closely followed by the media. Duncan allegedly lied on his airport questionnaire claiming that he had not come into contact with persons infected with the virus.
Duncan was confined to his home with his relatives as armed guards kept watch. It was decided that he would be prosecuted for his dishonesty. However, plans changed for Duncan when he was hospitalized over the weekend; he was reportedly in critical condition.
Thomas Frieden, the head of the CDC expressed his condolences for Duncan as well as adding that, “There’s no doubt that we can stop Ebola in this country.”
Reports state that at least 48 people may have come into contact with Duncan, and at least 10 had direct contact with him, some of those being children.
Another scare for the citizens of Texas was the news that a homeless man had ridden in the same ambulance as Duncan, but he was nowhere to be found after Duncan was taken into the hospital. A city wide search was conducted to find Michael Lively and he was found later that afternoon by Dallas Police.
While Ebola may not be airborne, it spreads through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, vomit, urine, feces, saliva, and semen.
Humans are not infectious until they develop the symptoms. The first symptoms consist of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
Ashoka Mukpo is the second known patient to be confirmed with the virus. Mukpo was diagnosed with Ebola last Thursday, he was transported to Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
While Texas may be in disarray, Georgia has suddenly found itself on the map as well. Last week an inmate in Cobb County was thought to have contracted the virus and was immediately transported for testing. He tested negative.
In early August two doctors were transported to a hospital in Atlanta after developing symptoms similar to those of Ebola. One of those patients was be released, only to return later with respiratory issues that are said to be unrelated to Ebola.
The U.S. has considered airport screenings for those coming in from infected countries. Unfortunately, there is no way to spot every possible person who is infected. The screenings include doing temperature checks.
Health officials are opposed to completely shutting down air transport from infected countries, believing it to be a possible hindrance to the effort to stop the spread.
There are currently no vaccines for the Ebola virus.
Editor’s Note: Thomas Duncan died at 7:51 a.m. on October 8 of Ebola.