The first case of Ebola in the United States has been found, after a man flew from Liberia to Texas, infected with the virus that has killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa.
“We have a seven-person team in Dallas today helping to review that with the family and make sure we identify everyone that could have had contact with him,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control, in an NBC interview.
The three EMS drivers who transported the infected man have tested negative for Ebola, and officials are assuring the public that this is not a public health crisis.
Nevertheless, the news of Ebola in America has fueled fears of an outbreak. Here’s what you should know about symptoms, transmission and treatment of the deadly disease.
These are the symptoms of Ebola, directly from the CDC:
Fever (greater than 101.5°F)
Abdominal (stomach) pain
Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
Recovery from Ebola depends on the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.
Ebola, expressed as the Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is an often fatal illness in humans, with a fatality rate of around 50 percent. Currently, there is no licensed vaccine, but there are two potential candidates undergoing evaluation.
— CNN (@CNN) October 1, 2014
In an interview with Vice, Dr. Diane Griffin, chair of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, was asked about Ebola symptoms and said, “People get very rapidly ill with vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding — it’s a hemorrhagic [bloody] fever. I’m not sure that if you lined up a whole bunch of people with different diseases that you could necessarily pick it out.”
Transmission: How Is Ebola Spread?
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 1, 2014
The most important thing to know about Ebola is that it’s not spread through the air or water, and you cannot get it through food. Ebola is spread through bodily fluids — blood, urine, saliva, feces, vomit, semen — of a person or animal who has been infected with the virus. Studies confirm Ebola is not spread through the air.
In addition, the disease is not contagious before a carrier shows symptoms.
“Ebola doesn’t spread before someone gets sick, Ebola does not spread from someone who doesn’t have fever and other symptoms.” Dr. Thomas Frieden of the CDC said. An infected person does become more infectious the sicker they get.
According to the CDC, there have been some cases in Africa where Ebola may have been spread through the handling of wild animals that were hunted for the use of food, and through contact with infected bats.
[WHO] It can be difficult to distinguish EVD from other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis.
— Ebola Alert (@EbolaAlert) October 1, 2014
Ebola Treatment: Can You Survive Infection?
According to the World Health Organization, the way to treat Ebola is:
Supportive care — rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids — and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated. No licensed vaccines are available yet, but two potential vaccines are undergoing human safety testing.
And from the CDC:
Providing intravenous fluids (IV)and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
Treating other infections if they occur
The Message On Ebola: Don't Panic http://t.co/7uz0D2cFJd
— NPR News (@nprnews) October 1, 2014
So there is no current cure for the virus, however the may have found effective Ebola treatment that is produced in genetically modified plants (GMOs). Called Zmapp, the drug was used in the successful treatment of infected Americans who were recently flown back to the United States for treatment.
However, Zmapp is not available for widespread use and will not be used to treat the infected patient in Dallas.