The ebola outbreak in Africa causes fears to spike in U.S.

The Ebola outbreak in several African countries causes fears to spike in U.S., with ZMapp administered to both infected Americans, which so far shows promise.
Map via New York Times

“There are in place a lot of precautions to ensure the safety of the American public and the traveling public,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday at a press briefing. Asked if the administration would block flights from the affected countries, he said, “No, not at this point.” [The Hill]

A MAN walked into Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City on Sunday, raising fears that the ebola virus had spread to the U.S. Of the 22 potential cases reported in the U.S., all have been false alarms. The deadly disease that will take months to tamp down in Africa reveals the dangers of travel and the imperative nature of world health organizations to communicate.

Two infected Americans have been flown into the U.S., Dr. Kent Brantly, and Nancy Writebol who will arrive today. They both received a “highly experimental” and “secret serum” that is evidently working, buy which has never been used on humans.

ZMapp has not been approved for human use and has not even gone through the clinical trial process, which is standard to prove the safety and efficacy of a medication. It may have been given under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “compassionate use” regulation, which allows access to investigational drugs outside clinical trials. [CNN]

This would be a first if ZMapp is proven to work on Ebola, a killer with no cure to this point.

The fears of Americans haven’t been helped because some cable and TV shows have run headlines screaming “Will Ebola come to America?,” as if it’s some rock star tourist.

Reporting in the New York Times reveals the vulnerability of large metropolitan areas like New York City,

An Ebola outbreak centered mainly in three West African countries — Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia — has infected more than 1,300 people and killed more than 700 of them. American health officials have advised against nonessential travel to the three countries, and have urged doctors to be on high alert for people who return from the region with symptoms like fever, diarrhea and vomiting.

[…]

In a statement to employees, hospital officials said that Ebola was spread only by direct contact with bodily fluids, and that infection control measures were being employed to protect patients and staff members.

Disease control and the vulnerability we all face in an era where travel is easy for everyone is a sobering thought when an outbreak makes news.