As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to spread, we wanted to share four reasons why you don't need to worry about an outbreak in the U.S.
Reason 1: The U.S. has a robust healthcare system.
A large outbreak – the likes of what we are seeing in West Africa – is very rare. The U.S. healthcare system can respond more effectively than can be done in West Africa. U.S. hospitals (including Emory in Atlanta where Dr. Brantly and Nancy Whitebol are being cared for) are well-equipped to handle infectious outbreaks like Ebola.
Reason 2: Ebola is hard to contract.
You aren't going to get Ebola if an infected person sits next to you or sneezes in the same room - the virus is not airborne. It is only transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or vomit. Patients are at the most dangerous contagious level when Ebola is in its terminal stages, which includes both internal and external bleeding, and profuse vomiting – all of which contain high concentrations of infectious virus. Anyone at this stage of the illness is close to death, and are too ill to travel.
Reason 3: The virus is fragile, and easily killed.
In the unlikely chance you come in contact with Ebola infected bodily fluids, it can be easily killed by contact with soap, bleach, sunlight or drying.
Reason 4: Exposure to Ebola can be controlled through the use of protective measures.
Precautions can be taken in clinics and hospitals, at community gatherings, or at home. Some precautions include wearing protective clothing when working with potentially infected people. Basic hygiene practices like washing your hands regularly and washing dirty clothes also help control the spread of the virus. More importantly, U.S. medical teams are highly trained and are taking stringent precautions to ensure the virus does not spread.
Ebola poses no significant risk in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control.
As there currently is no cure for Ebola, raising awareness about the risk factors and steps people can take to protect themselves is the best way people can help eradicate the disease.
MTI’s core work in Liberia over the last ten years has focused on community health education. You can help support our work to stop the spread.