Ebola May Spread to US?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
By Paul Martin

by Rebecca Savastio
July 1, 2014

Is it possible that Ebola may spread to the U.S.? Ebola is one of the most feared viruses in the world, and with good reason. The disease is highly contagious, and the deadliest strains kill up to 90 percent of those that it infects. Making matters even more frightening is the fact that there is no cure or vaccine. Medical treatment consists of providing supportive therapy and hoping that the victim’s immune system can fight off the illness.

Currently in West Africa the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded is underway, and the frightening truth is that it is far from under control. Fear and a lack of understanding are causing those in the hot zone to engage in behaviors that are highly counter-productive for containing the virus and stopping its spread. To date over 600 people have been confirmed to have contracted Ebola, with over half of those who have contracted the deadly disease dying from it. While these are definitely alarming numbers, the truth is that the outbreak could in fact be far worse than what is being reported. Due to stigma attached to the disease, and the fear of panic, it’s possible that the number of infected is much higher.

There are several things that make the current Ebola outbreak a serious threat that should make it a clear global concern, and have people asking if it is possible that Ebola may spread to the U.S. First, the current outbreak is unusual in that it has spread to major metropolitan areas. Most Ebola outbreaks remain in areas with low population densities making the ability of the virus to spread somewhat limited. The second major concern is that once infected a person may unknowingly carry Ebola, without displaying any symptoms, for up to 21 days. During this incubation period the disease is not easily spread, but the problem is what happens when the infected person becomes contagious. With no travel restrictions in place there exists a very real possibility that someone may unknowingly board a plane and end up spreading Ebola to another part of the globe.

In a developed country like the U.S., with advanced medical care, there is a good chance that the outbreak could be contained. However this is far from a certainty. Even if the chances of Ebola gaining a foothold in another part of the world seem slim, the major consequences of inaction are far too great to ignore, say experts.

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