Many Dallas citizens are panicking after confirmation was released on Tuesday that an isolated patient is indeed infected with the Ebola virus. Concerns continue to grow, as a second patient, who had close contact with the first, is exhibiting symptoms of the deadly virus.
Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, cautioned the media on Wednesday:
“Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient. So, I want to be frank, this is real. There should be a concern, but it’s contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment.”
Parents from the Dallas area are leery of the fact that the Ebola patient has knowingly come into contact with at least four children since returning from a trip to Liberia, where they contracted the virus. Those children are being kept home from school and closely monitored.
Dallas County district spokesman Jon Dahlander made a statement regarding the steps school officials will take to ensure the health of their students:
“They are consulting with the county on any additional action that may need to be taken during the course of investigation. This is part of routine emergency operations during a health incident in the county. This is same protocol taken during things like flu and tuberculosis cases.”
If the Ebola virus did indeed spread to a child, especially one who attends school, the risk for an outbreak in the U.S. becomes exponentially greater. As the virus is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, and school children play closely with little attention to cleanliness, you can imagine the risk involved with an infected child. Additionally, the symptoms of the virus, which ravage an adult body, are much more difficult to overcome for a child. Those symptoms include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding. Those who succumb to the virus either bleed to death from excessive hemorrhaging, or become fatally dehydrated from constant vomiting and diarrhea.
A team of six CDC employees has been dispensed to Dallas to work with local health officials on a ‘contact investigation.’ USA Today reported that anyone who has had contact with the Ebola patient, including emergency room staff, will be under close observation for 21 days. If any of those people begin to exhibit symptoms of the virus, they will immediately be placed in isolation. The three paramedics who transported the Ebola patient to the hospital are temporarily off duty and among those under observation.
Though health officials have relayed that there is no cause for concern for the general public, their reassurances could likely be an attempt to quell a chaotic response to the news of a U.S. citizen with Ebola. The highly-contagious virus, which is far from being contained in West Africa, could just as easily spread within the United States.
Stanley Gaye, president of the Liberian Community Association of Dallas-Fort Worth, is one citizen who is not taking the news of an American Ebola patient lightly. “We’ve been telling people to try to stay away from social gatherings,” Gaye said at a community meeting Tuesday. North Texas has a thriving Liberian population of over 10,000 individuals. There is a strong possibility that the Ebola patient is one of them, though their identity has not been released to the media.
Despite what the CDC and the WHO may be telling the media, our country is sorely unequipped to deal with an outbreak on U.S. soil. We have never dealt with the likes of Ebola in the past, and the repercussions of an unconfined outbreak would be devastating.
We will be sure to keep you informed as to whether or not this second anonymous patient does in fact have Ebola. Let us know what you think of this report in the comments section.