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Ebola: The Deadly Disease Infecting Thousands Physically and Mentally

posted Oct 22, 2014, 7:22 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Oct 26, 2014, 6:47 PM by Unknown user ]
KiaLynne Bland

Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone. These are the West African countries that have been hit the hardest this year by the serious and often fatal virus disease known as Ebola (formally known as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever). What started out in March 2014 with only 23 deaths has quickly escalated into over 4,000 known deaths as of this month with an expectancy of 10,000 new cases per week in West Africa by December 2014.

Ebola’s first case dates back to 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but studies have shown that the disease could date back to a million years ago. The disease has come and gone since then, but it has made its comeback this year, being the largest outbreak in Ebola’s history with cases confirmed in West Africa, Spain, and now the United States.

Being so contagious in West Africa, it was no surprise that Ebola entered the United States from Liberia in September 2014.

Thomas Eric Duncan was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Duncan previously traveled to Liberia where he caught the disease, carrying it with him on his journey back to the United States. Duncan began experiencing symptoms of the disease Sept. 24, 2014 and went to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas two days later. Though he admitted he had been in Liberia beforehand, he was sent home with only antibiotics and Tylenol. On Sept. 28, 2014, Duncan returned to the same hospital and was later isolated, showing more severe symptoms of Ebola. He tested positive for Ebola Sept. 30, 2014 and died Oct. 8, 2014, though his conditions were gradually improving. After Duncan’s passing, Nina Pham, an attending nurse, tested positive for Ebola Oct. 12, 2014. Pham was the first person who contracted the disease in the United States. She was flown from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Maryland Oct. 16, 2014

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Amber Vinson, a nurse who also treated Duncan, was the third person diagnosed with Ebola Oct. 15, 2014. Vinson traveled from Dallas to Cleveland, Ohio on Oct. 10, 2014 where she spent the weekend in Akron, Ohio. Vinson boarded a flight back to Dallas from Cleveland on Oct. 13, 2014 where she developed a fever of 99.5 °F. She began experiencing symptoms of Ebola the next day and was transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia later that evening.

With the Ebola diagnosis in the United States, people are beginning to panic. The media has been talking nonstop about Ebola, spreading it and causing fear. Nurses have complained that they are not receiving the proper training to prepare for Ebola and many have complained about the way President Barack Obama has handled the Ebola crisis. According to a CBS News article, panic is spreading faster than the disease. “I would say the panic is harder to contain than the disease itself.” said public health professor, Andrew Noymer. Noymer states there is no real need for Ebola panic in the United States.

But with an Ebola patient patient potentially exposing others to the virus disease throughout Ohio, hospitals have come up with plans to handle and treat Ebola if anyone ever comes down with symptoms of it. Findlay’s Blanchard Valley Hospital is one of the Ohio hospitals to prepare its staff for potential Ebola patients. Blanchard Valley Hospital has had an “Ebola plan” ready to go since August, but with the disease being exposed in Ohio, the hospital has been practicing drills with its staff during the week of Oct. 12, 2014. The hospital, like many others, is even using a buddy system to make sure there is always someone watching to ensure that medical workers are removing the protective gear correctly.

Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with someone else who has Ebola. This includes contact with an Ebola patient’s bodily fluids such as blood, urine, saliva, sweat, and vomit. Given that this is the only way a person can become exposed to Ebola, there is no real need for panic. This virus can easily be prevented in the United States and panic is the driving force behind its growth. “Everyone needs to take a step back,” states Noymer. “Just take a look at the situation for a minute, take a breath. If we look at the family of Mr. Duncan, none have come down with the disease.”