How Ebola Is Spread From Human to Human
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Yahoo News is reporting that two Americans infected with Ebola will be treated in the United States, marking the first time the deadly virus has been treated within U.S. borders.
The evacuations of Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol are being facilitated by the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Emory University in Atlanta announced at a press conference on Friday that it will be treating two patients with the Ebola virus.
As of this week, Ebola virus disease (EVD) has killed more than 700 people, according to the World Health Organization. There is no cure and no vaccine for EVD, which kills between 60 and 90 percent of its victims. The current outbreak — the largest in history — originated in Liberia and has spread to neighboring countries, but it has been contained thus far to West Africa.
The news that people infected with disease will be treated here in the U.S. sparked quite a reaction on social media, inspiring even a certain celebrity billionaire to take to Twitter in protest:
CDC director Thomas Frieden, M.D., called Ebola “a dreadful, merciless virus” on a press call on Thursday, so it’s understandable that Americans would be concerned. But the chance that someone in the general population will contract Ebola is still extremely small.
"This is a very low-risk situation for the general U.S. population," Diane Griffin, M.D., professor and chair in molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University, told Yahoo Health. "Emory is a great place for [the patient] to go. They are set up well to handle this type of situation."
Ebola is not spread like the cold or the flu, she added. You could be sitting next to someone who is infected and still not contract the virus. “It’s transmitted by very close contact with people who are sick or with their bodily secretions, such as blood, urine, and feces,” said Griffin. “It isn’t spread through the air like most other viruses. It’s usually contracted by people who are taking care of a sick person – either a health care worker in a medical setting or by someone taking care of a sick family member at home.”
Additionally, the infected patient(s) will be treated in what sounds like the Fort Knox of treatment centers. “Emory University Hospital has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases,” the hospital said in a statement. “It is physically separate from other patient areas and has unique equipment and infrastructure that provide an extraordinarily high level of clinical isolation. It is one of only four such facilities in the country.”