With the recent case of Ebola in Dallas, Texas, many Americans are worried about an Ebola outbreak on American Soil. The short answer is that they shouldn’t be. Let me explain why.
Ebola is spread through contact with the fluids from a person infected with Ebola. The important thing to keep in mind with dealing with the spread of Ebola is that it is only contagious if the infected person is symptomatic. The worse the symptoms of Ebola are, the easier it is spread, as the strength of symptoms is indicative to the strength of the virus.
Now, why shouldn’t Americans be worried? We see the devastation Ebola is causing in Africa; couldn’t that happen here in America? The answer to that is no. In discussing this with Forefront Advisory CEO and longtime friend Brad Reifler, we both came to agree that the key difference between the American healthcare system and the healthcare situations in countries affected by the most recent Ebola outbreak is in how they are set up. In America, our health care system can handle cases of Ebola without becoming overwhelmed.
In less developed nations, there are a number of factors working against them. There is less access to medical care, with Ebola spreading in rural areas and becoming a problem before health care workers are even aware of there being an outbreak. Once aware, these systems are quickly overwhelmed. It is also a matter of access. In Ebola stricken areas, access to materials such as disposable gloves, sheets, and hazmat suits are not as readily available, making is difficult to keep to isolation standards. Lastly, the culture in countries with Ebola outbreaks can help facilitate the spread of the virus. This is seen in the way they handle their dead, with it being a very public affair, with touching and kissing of the body, spreading it quickly to others.
As can be seen with the recent case of Ebola in Texas, the patient was quickly put into isolation, with all people he had contact with monitored for any symptoms. As he traveled before showing symptoms, he was not contagious to those he may have had contact with while traveling.