Possible Ebola Victim in Boston in Beth Israel Medical Center, Pending Diagnosis
It's been an unfortunate several days with regards to America's domestic anti-Ebola effort. It was only Wednesday when Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to suffer Ebola on American soil, died under hospital care in Dallas, Texas. With Sunday morning came news that one of the nurses in contact with Duncan tested positive for Ebola, becoming the first victim of a person-to-person transmission in the United States, and forcing her into medical isolation. And now, a man is under assessment for potential Ebola infection in Boston. His identity isn't known, but he's presently being cared for at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
To be clear, his actual status is not confirmed, and medical staff must still judge whether his symptoms justify testing him for Ebola, according to the Boston Globe. In deference to the possibility that he is suffering from the virus, however — the man reportedly returned from Liberia recently, the West African nation worst hit by the outbreak — Ebola protocols are being followed, pending whatever outcome.
As the Daily Mail reported, Harvard Vanguard Medical Center in Braintree, Mass. was evacuated after the man began displaying symptoms suggestive of the virus, and a statement from Harvard Vanguard's chief of infectious disease Ben Kruskal detailed their response.
Out of an abundance of caution we immediately notified authorities and the patient was securely removed from the building and put into an ambulance now headed to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The building was closed briefly but has now re-opened. We are working closely with the Department of Public Health who will determine next steps.
This may sound worrisome, but it's important not to jump to conclusions. A plethora of medical professionals and infection experts have urged calm since Ebola made it to the U.S., for very good reasons. Ebola can only be transmitted by direct contact with infected bodily fluids, and is not airborne, meaning proper medical protocols should be able to contain and halt its spread.
It's also important not to lose perspective on where the crisis has truly struck people the hardest. With all the attention that's been centered on the presence of Ebola within U.S. borders, the real nightmare of the Ebola outbreak continues to rage on across a number of West African states, primarily Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Nigeria has also had 20 confirmed cases, while Senegal and Spain have each had one, but it's those first three where the the virus has done the most damage.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that as of Oct. 12, those three countries have suffered 8376 total cases of Ebola, 4633 of which were laboratory-confirmed. Of those 8376 people, 4024 have died, which would be a 48 percent mortality rate. In other words, that's the scale of a genuinely terror-inspiring Ebola crisis looks like, as compared to the admittedly tense, but largely contained situation the U.S. is facing.
So by all means, stay informed and stay aware, but don't let get too nervous just yet. It'll now be up to medical workers at Beth Israel to determine the best course of action — according to Reuters, chief quality officer Dr. Kenneth Sands said that if it's ultimately recommended, Ebola testing would take 24 to 48 hours.
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