Ebola in USA no reason for panic

By Siouxsie Wiles 01/10/2014

In a press conference earlier today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that the US has diagnosed its first case of Ebola, in a man who travelled from Liberia to Dallas, Texas, on the 20th of September. The man was asymptomatic while in transit and only developed symptoms around the 24th of September. He sought medical help on the 26th of September and was hospitalised on the 28th. He remains in a critical condition.

Tom Skinner from the CDC spoke to Kathryn Ryan on Radio NZ National’s Nine to Noon programme this morning which you can listen to here.

This latest case is not cause for panic. The US have all the systems in place to isolate the patient and trace everyone he may have come into contact with while infectious. The only thing they should look into is why the infected man wasn’t admitted to hospital when he first presented with symptoms on the 26th September. The fact he had recently returned from Liberia should have rung alarm bells. Perhaps he didn’t admit to that.

Meanwhile back in west Africa, there have been over 6800 cases, with over 3100 deaths. Liberia’s chief medical officer, Dr Berenice Dahn, has placed herself in quarantine after an assistant died of Ebola. There is an excellent interview with Dr Dahn here. Kathryn Ryan also recently spoke to Ane Bjøru Fjeldsæter, a psychologist working for Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) in Liberia. It is great to know that MSF is also working with healthcare workers and volunteers to help them psychologically deal with the outbreak. If you want to donate to their efforts you can do so here.

And if you want to keep up to date with the case count, a new website which tracks the numbers of cases and deaths has sprung up called Ebola Count.

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