General Question

ibstubro's avatar

Do you think it inevitable that there will be an Ebola outbreak in the US?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) September 30th, 2014

The first case of Ebola was diagnosed in Dallas Texas. A Liberian man who exhibited no symptoms in flight.

Do you think there’s bound to be an Ebola outbreak? If so, how widespread do you think it will be?

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59 Answers

chyna's avatar

One of the doctors I work with has been predicting this for months. He thinks it will be devastating to the US. I keep hoping he is just an alarmist.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

We’re going to get some of it. We know more about infectious diseases, but it was only a question of when and where. I hope this one isn’t aerosol.

majorrich's avatar

I am certain the US will get a few cases, but our medical system is pretty good at locking down potential epidemics. Especially if it’s one that’s spread through body fluids, feces and tears. Maybe that’s what we can use those FEMA camps for.

Coloma's avatar

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the U.S. sees many cases as time wears on. There is no way to prevent, screen, and keep infections from entering any country. AIDs managed to make it’s way around the world in a few short years. Just another way of thinning the herd of humanity methinks.

tinyfaery's avatar

50% of us are going to die. It’s going to be a worldwide pandemic. Run. Hide.

wtf with letting people into the country from Liberia? That shouldn’t have happened.

Some people are going to get it. That’s just how it goes.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I hope not and if there is, I hope it will be very minor. The confidence of the guy at the CDC who was speaking on the TV this morning and said that they can contain the current situation had the opposite affect on me than I suspect he was hoping for. I hope they can, but he just came across as too confident.

This is a global rather than a US situation and I do wonder whether we shouldn’t consider a quarantine situation in place for people travelling from affected countries. That’s what used to happen with TB. I have no idea how many people arrive daily from these countries so it may just be totally impractical.

kritiper's avatar

@Coloma AIDS was spread around the world at first (and very effectively) by “Patient Zero.” It would have spread on it’s own far enough and fast enough but his involvement greatly increased the overall initial spread.

Coloma's avatar

@kritiper True, he was a pilot if I remember correctly. ???
Yep, it only takes one Typhoid Mary or Marty. lol

kritiper's avatar

@Coloma If I remember correctly, it is thought that he was an airline steward.

johnpowell's avatar

One of the old mods here is a infectious disease researcher in Dallas and he said there is a chance that he will see the patient in the morning. He didn’t seem freaked out so I wouldn’t worry either.

rojo's avatar

Ebola has been around for a while. It is not like it is a brand spanking new plague or anything. They know what needs to be done to treat it. They know that it is only when you are exhibiting symptoms that it is infectious. They know that the period between infection and onset of symptoms is usually eight days but that it has been known to be as long as twenty-one.
Do I think we will get an Ebola outbreak in the US? Probably but it will be containable and contained.

Quakwatch's avatar

There will not be an outbreak in the USA. We have the benefit of having money, public health, quarantines, actual hospitals, and infrastructure. We also don’t have the cultural habit of close, intimate contact with dying patients or corpses, as they do in Africa. So, we may have the occasional imported case, like this one, but no outbreak.

osoraro's avatar

As @Quakwatch said, not a chance.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I have put off travel because we go through Senegal . Scary enough to put you off air travel for awhile. And I agree with @Quakwatch .

stanleybmanly's avatar

The public health system here will eliminate any chance of an epidemic in this country. What is unavoidable will be the enormous pressure to restrict the travel of people from African nations. @trailsillustrated demonstrates a trend that will only increase in intensity, as the number of cases escalates. There is every reason to expect that tropical Africa will be virtually isolated from world commerce, beginning with the obvious collapse of the tourist industry. There are already rumblings from commercial aviation as nervous carriers fearful about public perception of planes shuttling in and out of plague laden cities, trumpet their supposed precautions against a disease for which there is no vaccine and a death rate beyond 50%. Expect a new meaning to the old expression “fear of flying” as well as a new definition for the continent regarding the eternal reference “basket case”.

Quakwatch's avatar

I also happen to know that there are many more potential therapies in development, so there is a very real chance that drugs and/or vaccines will be available soon.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Oh good, I was wondering what the next plague that’s going to decimate humankind would be. AIDS, the West Nile Virus, SARS and the Avian Flu didn’t quite do the trick.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

yes I do and we have only ourselves to blame. I heard yesterday that some countries had already banned flights flights from Africa until this is under control. we have our flights all open and our borders open to people illegally from third world countries. we will pay the price eventually.

BhacSsylan's avatar

No. Simply put, it does not spread in a way that will allow for it to become an epidemic in the US. Africa’s issue now is several fold, mostly having to do with an abysmal international response (the result of severe cuts to WHO’s funding in recent years), funeral rights that are not common in the US which involve a large amount of handling of the body, and inadequate medical infrastructure. None of these would apply.

ibstubro's avatar

I think an outbreak nearly inevitable, epidemic highly unlikely.

Like @Earthbound_Misfit, I’m unnerved by the seemingly sweeping confidence of the American CDC. If they’re so freaking confident, why are there 3,000+ dead already? Why was Ebola diagnosed in the US this week? We run the risk of the virus mutating to become airborne and becoming a pandemic.

People, including at least one American doctor, are contracting the disease without having had knowing contact with an infected person. There was a case where the administrator of an African hospital had a “false negative” on his Ebola test, and nearly the entire staff died.

The sky is not falling, but there are some serious storm clouds on the horizon and the US has just felt the first drop of rain.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Glance at the medical system of the countries where these 3,000+ died. Now compare with the medical system the US has. See the difference?

Coloma's avatar

Thing is, I don’t care what anyone says, international travel opens up a huge window for pre-symptomatic people to enter the country and potentially spread the disease before they are even symptomatic. It is arrogant to believe we can control micro-organisms.
This is not any different than any other virus where one is often infected prior to any obvious contact with a blatantly sick person.
Nature always trumps, regardless of whatever supposed precautions are taken.

I am not overly alarmed, I am not a neurotic type of person plagued pun intended with obsessive issues over every little thing, but I am also not, even remotely convinced, that we can claim with any certainty, that we will manage this disease with ease.

majorrich's avatar

Just in case, not all hand sanitizers are effective against the Ebola virus. If you are in the position where you feel you might have come in contact with infected material.

Checks at the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) have shown that only 11 hand sanitizers on the market are recognised by the authority.

The brands of hand sanitizers that had valid registration with the FDA as of beginning of August 2014 were Sanigel, Clean Touch, Dial Hand, Samocid, Forever Hand, Steri-7, Carex, Fruiser, Purell, Bremed and High Baby.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@majorrich Ebola is a virus. Hand sanitizers do not kill viruses, though they might reduce the amount of virus that you’re carrying around on your hands.

And you should really cite your sources, especially when you are directly stealing quoting someone else.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@Coloma when and how someone is capable of spreading a virus depends and is specific to a given virus. Ebola is only transmittable after symptoms appear, and only through contact with secretions.

majorrich's avatar

Here ya go @dappled_leaves Failed to make the rest of copy and paste work on iPad. And you really should read the article where it talks about not all sanitizers killing virus’.

majorrich's avatar

And that isn’t the site I saw this citation at the first time. I googled the passage and came up with lots of sites.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@majorrich If you google the passage with quotation marks, only that site shows up.

It’s true that not all sanitizers kill viruses. That does not contradict what I said.

The article that you cited implies that some sanitizers do kill viruses. I suspect that this is a misunderstanding on their part. Either that, or they’ve chosen a poor “expert” to cite.

majorrich's avatar

Aah! I see! First time I found this one googled Hand Sanitizer vs. virus’ and this was the first hit. Now that I have a keyboard it’s lots easier to copy and paste. But BSOD twice this last hour.
:(

BhacSsylan's avatar

since viruses aren’t technically alive, it’s not actually possible to kill them. They probably mean deactivate.

majorrich's avatar

Hot soapy water looks like is about as good. But not always as convenient.

Coloma's avatar

@BhacSsylan Okay, however, the person in Texas was admitted with symptoms and sent home with an anti-biotic only to return when they exhibited worsening symptoms. oops, too late.
I know that contagious diseases have varying ways of being transmitted but Ebola can present like many other conditions and contact with bodily fluids is not that difficult to encounter IMO.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Yes, that was an issue. However, that’s very different than saying “spread the disease before they are even symptomatic” and “prior to any obvious contact with a blatantly sick person.” With Ebola, you are sick. It can present like other things at first, but you are still noticeably sick when you can transmit, unlike many other diseases. And unlike much more worrying diseases for the US, especially when it comes to air travel, Ebola can only be transmitted directly, so it is less of an issue and much, much more easily contained than, say, the flu, which still kills a decent number of people every year. Does that mean it can’t be spread? Of course not. But it is very different, and once you know it’s in an area, it’s immeasurably easier to quarantine those possibly infected and cut it off. The hospital didn’t do it’s due diligence this time (because, frankly, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck the first thing you go to is not normally “killer wereduck”) but you can bet that every medical professional in the Dallas area is now going to be sure to check if there’s a chance in one of their patients.

Ebola is bad enough already, but mostly for Africans. We do not need to add it to by freaking out over something we can handle. I’m reminded of people on the west coast making themselves sick after Fukishima by taking tons of KI tablets for radiation poisoning they couldn’t possibly be exposed to. Or @BeenThereSaidThat‘s inexplicable xenophobia upthread. Not to say that’s just you, it’s a good chunk of this Q besides. But if people lose their heads it’ll just make it worse.

Coloma's avatar

@BhacSsylan I respect your knowledge, absolutely, still…it is cause for concern.
Count me out on the hysteria end, I am much more likely to contract Tetanus on my ranch here or get bitten by a rattlesnake or rabid critter of some sort or kicked senseless by one of the horses. haha
Just sayin’ that we should not be too smug abut the situation, as always, I think the chance of things getting worse before they get better is viable.

Hey, I’m the first to welcome a lot of disease, we sure could stand to cull the herd by about 5 billion these days. lol

BhacSsylan's avatar

Slight update, it was indeed a mistake on hospital’s part; he mentioned his travel to Liberia but it was not taken note of. Again, you can be sure that people will be far more on point about that now, and pretty much everyone he might have infected are under surveillance. If any of them do come down with it it will be terrible (and oh god the malpractice suit that would hit the hospital…), but it is being contained.

ibstubro's avatar

lol, @BhacSsylan.

Not breaking news. I knew that from NPR 12, 15 hours ago.

“Every medical professional in the Dallas area is now going to be sure to check if there‚Äôs a chance in one of their patients.”

Great for Dallas.

Speak for the rest of the country.

BhacSsylan's avatar

If you think they’re not also taking note and being more careful to screen patients you have a very dim view of thier intelligence. Dallas is specifically an issue because a live case existed and could trasmit. That is not know to exist anywhere else in the country.

I also never claimed it was breaking news. It was an update to what I previously said.

Quakwatch's avatar

Everyone needs to settle down. So far, there have been zero secondary cases. One or two might turn up, including a “very close contact” being monitored by the CDC. Although the observation period is supposed to be 21 days, most people with hemorrhagic fever viruses like Ebola or Marbug become ill within 7 days of contact with a symptomatic patient. Since the index patient was ill for ~4 days from say Thursday-Sunday before he was quarantined, if there are secondary cases we will learn by the end of this coming weekend.

johnpowell's avatar

Seriously, Remember, Shilolo and Judochop?

http://www.fluther.com/30017/ever-have-constipation-so-bad-that-it-hurt-to-move/

Lolo and his two kids and wife are in Dallas and he does ID for a living. He isn’t shipping his kids off to Montana in a bunker. No need to worry.

ibstubro's avatar

I wasn’t aware of anyone being upset, @Quakwatch? We’re calmly discussing. Personally, I’m in the rural sticks and I could avoid civilization for weeks or months if not years, need be.

That doesn’t make me incurious or unconcerned.

osoraro's avatar

Hospitals are catching up. The Dallas hospital made a mistake in sending the patient home. It may happen again, but most hospitals are gearing up their screening.

ibstubro's avatar

I heard that the entire family of the man diagnosed in Dallas are quarantined in their house together. That hardly seems fair to me. The house isn’t even decontaminated, and if a single one comes down with the virus, all are at increased risk. I’m sure there’s little/no person to person contact, but still…

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

That’s how quarantine used to be here in Australia for smallpox and the like. If you came off a ship where someone had become sick on the voyage, you were housed at the Quarantine Station for three months. I don’t think you had to go there if nobody had been sick. If during your stay at the Quarantine Station anyone else came down with Smallpox (or another deadly disease) you had to stay there for another three months. And so on until nobody became sick during that stint and then you could leave (if you survived!). Pretty horrific stuff.

Beautiful place to visit but we can leave. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to be housed there after getting off a ship where smallpox had been encountered.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit Mean but effective if you don’t have state of the art med care. I think the US mortality rate so far is 25 percent. I think so far, we’ll see.. That’s better than the 60 or so percent in Africa.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m not suggesting you do this for people now :-) I think this would be a rather extreme step to say the least. It did work of course, but they were very different times.

I don’t think the implementation of some form of quarantine/serious entry monitoring and protocol is a bad idea when people are travelling from high risk areas during an outbreak like this in Africa. It’s easier to stop people at the border as they enter, than to try to track their movements and anyone they’ve contacted after the fact. The trouble is, with an incubation period of 21 days, managing any quarantine situation creates a whole host of new problems for border security. I don’t know if it’s even feasible.

ibstubro's avatar

Too technical for us lay people, @osoraro. You know that I’ll pick at the details
“The filoviruses, Ebola and Marburg, are among the most virulent pathogens of humans…”

There were similar stations here in the US during the early 1900’s, @Earthbound_Misfit. I read a book that included the details, and they were horrid cesspools of death and disease.
Considered, however, humane and expedient at the time because they prevented general contagion.

Containing the Dallas patient’s family to the home strikes me too much as “an incubator”. Is the time so short we have to use human guinea pigs?

Quakwatch's avatar

@ibstubro Where would you recommend they be quarantined? Home quarantine is standard procedure for a variety of infectious diseases. The fact that dirty sheets were in the home is probably not that meaningful. In a study published in 2007 by the CDC of a smaller outbreak, no fomites (i.e. furniture, sheets, etc.) from infected patients were positive for Ebola when tested after 6 hours of exposure except for two blood soaked specimens.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Response moderated
BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

When a case finally hits Washington D.C. then our Government will worry about it. OH WAIT!! that just happened.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Patient-With-Ebola-Like-Symptoms-Being-Treated-at-Howard-University-Hospital-278025181.html

ibstubro's avatar

Interesting, @BeenThereSaidThat. I had not heard that. Thanks.

rojo's avatar

So, is this the beginning of the end or the beginning of a new era of isolationism?

rojo's avatar

Evidently Obama sent troops to Africa with the hopes that they will contract the ebola virus and bring it back to the US thus infecting the entire nation. Or so says one of our less-than-brilliant (and we have a lot of them, you are welcome to some if you run short) Texas Representative Louie Gohmert.

Next you will hear the illegal aliens are bringing it in across our southern border. Oh, wait… evidently Georgia has more than its fair share too

ibstubro's avatar

Even NPR is schizo, @rojo. One week reporting that no terror has ever crossed in via Mexico, then next that terror from Mexico is inevitable.

Misspegasister28's avatar

I’m not sure. American hospitals are way better than African hospitals, for one. Also, one of the reasons it spread so fast in Africa is because of their burial customs. They touch the blood and bodily fluids of their dead ones.

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