Could deadly Ebola virus spread to United States? U.S. health alert targets doctors for now

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
By Paul Martin

Syracuse.com
July 29, 2014

NEW YORK — U.S. health officials are monitoring the Ebola outbreak in Africa but say the risk of the deadly germ spreading to the United States is remote.

The Centers for Disease Control on Monday sent a health alert to U.S. doctors about the outbreak. There are no travel restrictions to the West Africa region hit by the disease. But last month, the CDC issued a mid-level travel advisory for health workers.

Two American aid workers in Liberia have tested positive for the virus and are being treated there. The family of one worker — Texas doctor Kent Brantly — recently returned to the U.S. for a visit. The CDC said they are fine.

Officials stressed people are not contagious until they show symptoms, and the doctor’s family left Liberia days before he got sick.

Their return has sparked questions about whether they might introduce the infection to the U.S.

However, Stephan Monroe of the CDC said Monday that “Ebola poses little risk to the general U.S. population.”

The children departed for a wedding in the U.S. just days before Brantly fell ill and quarantined himself.

They are currently staying with family in Abilene and, while not subject to quarantine, are monitoring their temperatures for an early sign of viral infection, a City of Abilene spokeswoman said.

The Texas-trained doctor says he is “terrified” of the disease progressing further, according to Dr. David Mcray, the director of maternal-child health at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where Brantly completed a four-year residency.

“I’m praying fervently that God will help me survive this disease,” Brantly said in an email Monday to Mcray. He also asked that prayers be extended for Nancy Writebol, an American co-worker who also has fallen ill.

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