Photo: Jack Kearse/Emory University
The state of the lethal outbreak of Ebola has worsened in West Africa with a total of over nine hundred deaths in more than three countries. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on Thursday, sent out a warning to Americans to avoid nonessential traveling to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone; Peace Corps volunteers are currently being evacuated from the region. An American patient, who was infected with the virus in West Africa, is expected to be treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta within several days said the university in a statement Thursday. The patient, whose identity will remain undisclosed, will be treated at a special containment unit set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat people exposed to serious infectious diseases. This will be the first time a patient infected with Ebola has been treated in the United States, according to CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds. “Every precaution is being taken to move those infected safely and securely, to provide critical care en route and to maintain strict isolation upon arrival in the United States,” says Reynolds.
There is currently no cure or treatment for the disease, in which the virus replicates rapidly throughout the body, causing multiple organ failure and often times, death in a matter of days. Although the disease is multiplying vastly in the West African region, the CDC’s Director, Thomas Frieden, assures that “Ebola poses little risk to the U.S. general population,” Porous borders and poor health infrastructure are also factors in the swift regional outbreak. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other healthcare officials said that Americans should not fear that the epidemic will take hold in the United States. Ebola is only contagious when a patient is sick with the symptoms of the disease. The virus is then spread by direct contact with bodily fluids after the symptoms appear. Frieden said that human trials of a possible vaccine could begin as soon as September.