In case you're wondering, I've been checking for new information on the Ebola outbreak every couple of hours for the last three days, or so.
The short answer is - Not yet, it hasn't even left the African continent. If it spreads to any other continent then we should worry. That being said, US health care workers are watching, maybe even preparing, for the disease.
The long answer (this could take a while) is a little more difficult. First let's talk about how it spreads, and such. Of course anybody following the outbreak will know all of this already.
- The incubation period for Ebola can vary from 2-21 days. Two days to three weeks.
- It's not airborne, it can only be spread through contact with an infected person.
- The mortality rate is over 60%.
- After symptoms stop (if you survive) you could still be contagious for months!
As of July 23rd 672 have died from this outbreak, and over 1,200 have been infected. The 24th-27th saw 122 new cases, and 57 more deaths. As of the 27th the total is 1323 (confirmed, probable, or suspect) infected, and 729 deaths according to the WHO website.
The peace corps are pulling 340 volunteers out of Africa. Two have been quarantined because they came in contact with a person who later died of Ebola. Once they are all cleared for travel they will be on their way back to the states.
One man, DR. Sheik Umar Khan, died after treating the infected for months. He successfully treated over 100 patients with Ebola. He was Sierra Leone's only specialist with Viral Hemorrhagic fevers.
Another on his way to the USA flew from Liberia, where he was showing no symptoms, to Nigeria, where he collapsed, and later died. 59 contacts to this person were identified and are currently observed.
The first case of this outbreak was back in February.
Currently the CDC says there is a very low chance of it being brought to the United States.
Major airlines are still flying people from West Africa to the US. Only people showing possible symptoms are stopped.
There are five known "species" in the genus ebolavirus. The most well-known, and most common Zaire ebolavirus is thought to be the one causing the current outbreak.
Scientists believe that Ebola can be caught from infected primates, and fruit bats. Unfortunately for people in Africa, fruit bats are a delicacy there. Fortunately for people in the USA, fruit bats are not usual consumed here.
In my opinion we should all be following this outbreak ready to act. If only people who are showing symptoms are being stopped in airports then who's to say something like what happened in Nigeria won't happen in the US? If someone comes in contact with the virus unknowingly, boards a plane to the US the next day, and then isn't showing symptoms until 20 days after that? We could be in trouble.
I have been doing research on that probability, and more about the virus in general. I've been called a hypochondriac, and a germaphobe, but guess who's going to be laughing when the rest of you get Ebola? Kidding, but we should all be cautious. With school starting up in a month or so bigger groups of children mean more possibility for the spread of disease.
So here's the short answer again - We shouldn't be worried yet, but we should keep our eyes open.
Here's a song I found written about the disease to help warn people about it. *WARNING, IMAGES IN VIDEO ARE DISTURBING* The pictures in this video are of people with the disease. Not for the faint of heart, or weak stomached.
Over the next few days I'll continue watching the news. I will likely post short updates on my Facebook page, though I won't put up anymore long posts like this one!