Since word got out about Thomas Eric Duncan (the man diagnosed with Ebola in TX), a lot of people seem in the US seem to have suddenly become concerned about their increasing likelihood of catching this deadly disease. The public reaction hasn’t been surprising; there have been posts asking why we haven’t closed the borders, outcries of why this man made it through airport security, and all kinds of questions about how to protect the American people.
Here’s the thing: a man came from Liberia with his wife to visit family in Dallas and didn’t develop worrisome symptoms until he was already on US soil. He must have contracted the illness right before the flight, as he had no fever or other symptoms that all the world’s airports are now trained to recognize. Of course, as soon as he became ill in TX, he went to a hospital, was soon diagnosed with Ebola, and has been quarantined ever since.
He isn’t even the first person to be treated in the US for Ebola. At least a handful of Americans have been diagnosed while overseas and brought back to the US to undergo treatment. Yet, despite the fact that not even the man’s wife has shown any sign of having contracted the illness, parents have been pulling their children from school and the public seems terrified, based on some loud outcries.
Why all the crazy?
Yes, Ebola has proved to be a horrible plague on West African countries who were not equipped to deal with the severity of the situation until it was too late to stop it. They are only now getting real help from countries such as the US in slowing down this disaster, despite the rising death toll that has now reached approximately 3,500.
However, the fact of the matter is that unless you have come in direct contact with an infectious (that means that they are already showing symptoms) person’s body fluids, you aren’t at risk. In order to contract Ebola you’d have to have a patient’s blood, urine, vomit, etc. reach your mouth, eyes, open wound, or some other form of direct contact with your insides.
The CDC has been very thorough in their quick response and hunting down anyone who could have come in contact with the Dallas patient since he stepped on that plane from Liberia.
Seriously. Unless you’ve had that direct contact, you don’t have Ebola. That high fever, body aches, weakness, abdominal pain, and vomiting is probably just the flu. Although, if you start having unexplained bruising and bleeding which you can’t explain, maybe go to the ER just in case.
EDIT: Since this article was written, it has been confirmed that Thomas Eric Duncan has passed away.