By Sarah Tinoco
Although the Centers for Disease Control received harsh criticism regarding their policies for detection and treatment of Ebola patients, government and CDC officials remain positive that an Ebola outbreak is highly unlikely in the US.
What has reportedly infected the nation, however, is “Fearbola,” the constant fear of contracting the Ebola virus. With the nonstop reporting of Ebola in the local, national and international news, many Americans are convinced an Ebola epidemic is imminent.
Elizabeth Ritzman, director of the Wellness Center, said: “We cannot just be thinking about Ebola. We should be even more concerned about the rise of tuberculosis and HIV.”
Not all Dominican students have fallen victim to Fearbola. Junior Eduardo Hernandez said: “I feel like it’s similar to swine flu. It’s something that the media is causing people to be paranoid about.” Junior Hannah Wald said: “I think people are overreacting. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Some Dominican students temper their fear with optimism. Senior Dianna Kes said: “I feel that it’s something that is scary, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. I hope that people aren’t afraid to travel. Also, I hope they’ll find a vaccine for the disease and learn more about it as they continue to treat people.”
“I hope Ebola is handled in a more professional way,” Hernandez said. “I hope they find a cure because [the world] has lost a significant amount of people and we don’t want to lose anymore.”
As of Oct. 22, the CDC announced 9,911 Ebola cases and 4,868 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
According to the Advisory Board, nine Americans have contracted the disease so far. Five of them recovered, one died and three are being treated.
Craig Spencer was working with Ebola patients in West Africa and started showing symptoms when he returned to New York. He was treated in the US and recovered.
Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were treating Ebola patients in Liberia when they contracted the disease. They were both treaded with ZMapp, an experimental antibiotic, and recovered in the US.
Liberian citizen Thomas Eric Duncan helped a sick neighbor and contracted Ebola shortly after flying to the US. He is, so far, the only person to die of Ebola in the US.. Nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vincent contracted the virus after caring for Duncan in a Texas hospital. Last week, both women were declared Ebola-free by the National Institutes of Health.
Discovered in 1976, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, or the Ebola virus, is a serious infectious virus that causes flu-like symptoms as well as bleeding and a rash. It is transmitted to humans from infected animals. According to the World Health Organization, fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are suspected natural hosts of the Ebola virus and animals including chimpanzees, gorillas, porcupines and forest antelope are known to carry the virus.
Once transmitted to humans, the Ebola virus is only contagious when a person comes into direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. It can take anywhere from two to 21 days for a person to develop symptoms of Ebola.
According to the CDC, there is no approved vaccine or treatment for Ebola but early detection, isolation and proper supportive treatment of fluids, food and electrolytes can improve a patient’s status.
Researchers are rapidly working to create an Ebola vaccine that would be ready for public use by the beginning of 2015.
Depending on how soon the Ebola virus is treated, the risk of fatality is between 50 percent and 90 percent. Fatality rates are highest in West Africa where the Ebola outbreak is the most severe and countries lack economic and social resources needed to properly care for Ebola patients. However, in first world countries including the US, hospitals are equipped with modern isolation facilities and the doctors and resources needed to help treat patients with the virus.