Health officials say there is virtually no danger to the American public from the deadly Ebola virus. What you need to know:
Q: What’s the likelihood of a major Ebola outbreak happening in the United States?
A: Remote, according to officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If an Ebola patient were to be identified here, American health systems would quickly identify, isolate and treat the person, along with anyone who may have come into contact with him or her. It’s very unlikely that American travelers to West Africa could contract the disease, since they would have to come in direct contact with an infected person’s blood, organs or other bodily secretions.
Q: Why are we bringing people known to have Ebola into the country?
A: Evacuation to the United States ensures that the two aid workers will have access to “modern medical facilities and technology” that could save their life, a White House spokesman said. Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol contracted Ebola while working in Liberia and are in serious condition.
Q: Are there any other Ebola patients in the United States?
A: The countries that have reported confirmed or probable cases within their borders are all in West Africa: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. Brantly’s wife and two children were living with him in Liberia, and they left for the United States before he fell ill.
Q: Might I encounter someone with Ebola at an airport?
A: Probably not. All of the affected West African nations have plans to screen airport passengers before they leave. That includes taking their temperatures to check for fevers. If a passenger does become ill on a flight, airlines will isolate the patient — and anyone who may have had contact with that person. The CDC has 20 isolation stations at major airports around the country.
Q: I’m still worried. What are the symptoms?
A: Unless you or someone you have been in close contact with has recently traveled to West Africa, there’s almost no chance you will get sick with Ebola. Even if someone is infected, they are not contagious until they exhibit obvious symptoms of being ill, such as fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms include sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and headaches, along with vomiting and diarrhea.
Los Angeles Times