Ebola, which has led to more than 4,900 deaths in West Africa, is indeed a serious disease, but there many reasons why Americans should not be frightened.
Of the nine people who have been treated for Ebola in the United States, only one of them, Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, has died. Dr. Kent Brantly, healthcare worker Nancy Writebol, an unnamed World Health Organization doctor, Dr. Rick Sacra, cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, and Dallas nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson are all Ebola-free. Dr. Craig Spencer, the doctor recently diagnosed in New York City, is improving.
Forty-three people who had direct or indirect contact with Duncan have been declared Ebola-free. A total of 48 people have passed the 21-day isolation period that amounted to a self-imposed quarantine for some, and a more serious state-ordered quarantine for others. An additional 120 people are being monitored until Nov. 7, officials say.
Patrick Sawyer, a consultant for the Liberian Ministry of Finance, died of Ebola at Lagos airport in July. Although he did not show Ebola symptoms when he boarded the plane, by the time he arrived in Nigeria he was vomiting and had diarrhea. There were around 200 other passengers on the flight, but none came down with the disease.
Four people who lived in the same apartment as Duncan, who were closer to an Ebola patient than you will probably ever be when riding the subway or other mass transit, are Ebola-free. This includes his fiancée Louise Troh and Timothy, Troh’s 13-year old son, as well as two men in their twenties who lived with Duncan.
Troh shared a bedroom with Duncan while he was symptomatic, and she reportedly took care of him while he was sweating, had a fever, and had diarrhea.
Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse who was infected while caring for Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, has been declared Ebola-free and has been released from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Amber Vinson, the other nurse infected with Ebola in Dallas after caring for Duncan, who was being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, has also been released.Conclusive tests show that Teresa Romero Ramos, a Spanish nursing assistant infected with Ebola, has also been cured of the virus, according to doctors at Madrid’s Carlos III hospital. Romero’s husband and 14 other people who came in contact with her when she felt feverish — and who were hospitalized for observation —have not shown Ebola symptoms. Ten of them were released on Monday.
Finally, Senegal and Nigeria were recently declared Ebola-free after sporadic cases in which travelers arrived from other countries carrying the disease.
If these two West African nations can stop Ebola with proper monitoring and contact tracing, as well as correct and consistent use of personal protective gear, the United States will be able to stop the Ebola virus before it becomes a crisis here, too.