Can out-of-control Ebola epidemic hit America? Patient Headed to Atlanta, Georgia

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UPDATE:

A few hours after I’d published this post comes news that Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, announced today that the university’s Clifton Road hospital is expected to receive a patient infected with Ebola within the next several days. The patient most likely will be kept in the hospital’s specially-built isolation unit for patients exposed to certain serious infectious diseases. The unit, one of only four such facilities in the U.S., was set up in collaboration with the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is physically separate from other patient areas.

The university doesn’t say whether the Ebola-infected patient is American, nor his/her point-of-origin. (Editor’s Note: It is now being reported that there are two Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, being sent to Emory.)

(Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

ebola 3Since the first outbreak last February in the remote jungles of Guinea in West Africa, the terrible Ebola epidemic — the largest Ebola outbreak ever — had made the jump from West Africa’s jungles to the cities in the space of just two months. By April, the charity medical group Doctors Without Borders already declared the epidemic to be out of control.

By now, the Ebola epidemic has taken the lives of more than 700 people in the 4 West African countries of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. The latter, with a population of more than 174 million, is the most populous country in not just West Africa, but the African continent. Among the dead are, tragically, Sierra Leone’s chief Ebola doctor and an American named Patrick Sawyer (more on him later).

Over 320 known Ebola cases are in Liberia alone. That has prompted Liberia’s assistant minister of health Tolbert Nyenswah to declare that the  is now above the control of the government. Nyenswah told CBS News, “Our government has declared this now as a humanitarian crisis that is above the control of the national government. This virus, if it is not taken care of, will be a global pandemic.

Ebola is one of the world’s deadliest viruses with a high fatality rate of 60 to as high as 90%. There is no vaccine. No cure.

First identified in 1976 in the sub-Saharan jungles of Zaire and the Sudan, Ebola was transmitted to humans via the blood or bodily fluids of an infected fruit bat or monkey.

Symptoms typical of an Ebola infection begin 2 to 21 days after contacting the virus — those of fever, throat and muscle pains, and headaches. Then it gets worse, with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. Then it gets even worse. The infected starts hemorrhaging or bleeding from the body’s mucous membranes — mouth (gums), nose, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina.

Westerners are evacuating from the stricken West African countries:

  • The Peace Corps has temporarily evacuated 340 volunteers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone after two members were exposed to the virus.
  • Two North Carolina-based missionary groups have ordered the evacuation of their non-essential personnel from Liberia after a Texas-trained doctor and a missionary from Charlotte contracted Ebola.

“This virus, if it is not taken care of, will be a global pandemic.”

So what’s the likelihood that Ebola will hit the United States? – and if it does, what plans does the federal government have to deal with it?

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Can Ebola come to the United States? The answer is “Yes.” Here’s why:

1. THE FRIGHTENING CASE OF PATRICK SAWYER

America actually narrowly dodged the bullet. Patrick Sawyer, 40, was a naturalized U.S. citizen working for the Finance Ministry of his native Liberia who recently died from Ebola, after collapsing at Nigeria’s Lagos airport.

On July 20, 2014, Sawyer became manifestly ill during the 6-hour, 40-minute journey (via two ASKY flights) from Liberia to Lagos, where he was scheduled to attend an economic development conference. Sawyer was taken to a nearby hospital and placed in isolation. Five days later, he died.

Sawyer was scheduled to fly to Minneapolis in time for an August 16 joint birthday party for two of his daughters. Had he remained at least outwardly healthy enough not to exhibit symptoms of Ebola, he almost certainly would have boarded that flight to Minneapolis.

If that had happened, all those who came into contact with him — every passenger and crew member in his flight, as well as people he’d encountered in the airport, would have to be quarantined or monitored. That is precisely what happened to the 15 people Sawyer encountered at the Lagos airport, reportedly including the Nigerian ambassador to Liberia, as well as the 44 people with whom he was known to have had contact at the Lagos hospital. As for those who were on Sawyer’s two ASKY flights, disturbingly, Nigerian officials are unable to check who might have been exposed on those flights because the airline inexplicably had failed to provide passenger lists. ASKY did suspend all service to Liberia and to Sierra Leone, which also has reported numerous Ebola cases. (Source: Daily Beast)

The latest: The Nigerian government has widened the search to find up to 30,000 people who could be hosting the dreaded virus because they had been in contact with Sawyer, including anyone at one of four airports visited by Sawyer, and those in contact with him in Lagos. Several airlines have now stopped flying to Liberia and Sierra Leone over concerns about the spread of the disease from Guinea. (Source: Daily Mirror)

2. EBOLA CAN BE ASYMPTOMATIC FOR UP TO 21 DAYS

Airlines are now instructed to be on the lookout for passengers who exhibit signs of Ebola. The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) advises crew members on a flight with a passenger or crew member who is “ill with fever, jaundice, or bleeding” and has been traveling from or has recently been in an area at risk for the disease should follow these precautions:

  • Keep the sick person separated from others as much as possible.
  • Provide the sick person with a surgical mask (if the sick person can tolerate wearing one) to reduce the number of droplets expelled into the air by talking, sneezing, or coughing.
  • Give tissues to a sick person who cannot tolerate a mask. Provide a plastic bag for disposing of used tissues.
  • Wear impermeable disposable gloves for direct contact with blood or other body fluids.

The problem, of course, is that a person stricken with Ebola can display no symptoms for up to 3 weeks or 21 days, which means — I’m not being unduly alarmist but just thinking logically — that individual may be on a flight sitting right next to you.

3. AMERICA’S OPEN SOUTHERN BORDER

Already, our beleaguered — and now physically attacked — U.S. border agents have warned us about the many infectious diseases borne by the tens of thousands of illegals “surging” across the U.S.-Mexico border.

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That prompted Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia), who is a medical doctor, to write a letter to the CDC stating his concern: “The influx of families and unaccompanied children at the border poses many risks, including grave public health threats. As a physician for over 30 years, I am well aware of the dangers infectious diseases pose. In fact, infectious diseases remain in the top 10 causes of death in the United States. … Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning.”

Although CDC spokesman Daniel J. DeNoon confirmed that the CDC has received no reports of a human Ebola infection anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, much less the U.S.-Mexico border, the fact remains that, as Gingrey conveyed to NBC News’ Luke Russert, it was the border patrol who included Ebola among the list of diseases they’re concerned about.

Another physician, Dr. Peter Piot, a discoverer of the Ebola virus and head of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is much more sanguine.

Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Dr. Piot said there was little risk of pandemic: “Spreading in the population here, I’m not that worried about it. I wouldn’t be worried to sit next to someone with Ebola virus on the Tube [London’s underground train system] as long as they don’t vomit on you or something. This is an infection that requires very close contact” because Ebola is spread through contact with bodily fluids.

WHAT MAY HAPPEN IN THE UNITED STATES IF EBOLA GOES GLOBAL

Infowars reports that in April, the Department of Defense announced that it had deployed biological diagnostic systems to National Guard support teams across the U.S. in readiness for any potential Ebola outbreak.

The CDC has procedures in place to deal with such an outbreak backed by force of law. On the official CDC website are “Specific Laws and Regulations Governing the Control of Communicable Diseases” specifying that, due to Ebola’s incubation period of as long as 21 days, seemingly healthy citizens who show no symptoms of Ebola can be forcibly quarantined at the behest of medical authorities:

“Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.”

Infowars fears that the Obama administration may use an Ebola outbreak to impose martial law.

Meanwhile, President Beezlebub the POS is sticking to plans to convene a three-day summit for Monday through Wednesday of next week in Washington for leaders of African countries.

As principal deputy press secretary mouth of Sauron Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One yesterday: “We have no plans to change any elements of the U.S.-Africa summit as we believe all air travel continues to be safe here,”

~Eowyn

Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared yesterday at Fellowship of the Minds.

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