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  • CDC: Ebola Outbreak in US Highly Unlikely

    The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States sparked plenty of anxiety-producing headlines, but health experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say the chances of an outbreak in the US are almost none.

    CNN, the Washington Post, and nearly every other media outlet reported that a man was diagnosed with the virus in Dallas, Texas, a few days after arriving from Liberia. Initially, the man brought himself to a Dallas-area emergency room, but his symptoms were not connected to Ebola and he was sent home. When he later returned to the hospital feeling worse, he was isolated and the diagnosis confirmed.

    Because Ebola does not become contagious until an individual begins feeling ill, passengers on the flight the man took from Liberia are in no danger of contracting the disease from him, health officials said. Instead, health workers are investigating contacts he may have had with family and others in the US after he showed signs of sickness.

    CDC officials believe that the way the disease is spread—through direct contact with the body fluids of people showing symptoms—makes it unlikely Ebola cases would grow in the US as they have in West Africa, where the World Health Organization estimates that over 3,000 have died. Experts believe that isolation resources, infectious disease protocols, and investigative capabilities in the US can minimize the spread of the disease.

    Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, was quoted as saying that "It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual could develop Ebola in the coming weeks. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here."

    The CDC has been adding to its website on Ebola as the West African outbreak continued, and now offers a wide range of resources including infection prevention and control recommendations for health care facilities.

    Infectious disease control should never be an afterthought. Check out APTA's resources at its Infectious Disease Control webpage.

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