As many of you now know, the first diagnosis of Ebola in the United States was confirmed September 30, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. A male arrived in Dallas from Liberia to visit family September 20. Four days later, September 24, he went to a doctor with severe flu-like symptoms. At that time, the patient was discharged. September 28 he was taken by ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s Emergency Room, where he was admitted for fear of a possible Ebola infection. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) was alerted and samples were taken that confirmed the Ebola diagnosis. Currently, the patient is in a contained bio-isolation unit in critical condition. No further word on the patient’s condition is available at this time. The CDC, county and state health department officials will be monitoring the man’s family and anyone he may have come in close contact with from September 20 to September 28. These individuals will be closely monitored, including the Dallas Fire and Rescue ambulance paramedics for 21 days, which is the incubation period of the virus. Should any of these individuals present with symptoms, they will be immediately contained to avoid further contamination and immediately treated. At The Travel Doctor, we understand there may be many who fear an Ebola outbreak in the United States. The possibility of a large-scale outbreak is minimal and if cases are diagnosed, our healthcare system and infrastructure is far more sophisticated than the facilities in developing countries. Travelers to and from the “Hot Zone” of West Africa are being required to have their temperature taken prior to boarding a flight from this region and upon entry to any of the countries in this region. If someone does present with a temperature, they are immediately transported to a quarantine unit. There is always a possibility that individuals who have contracted the Ebola virus and are in the early stages of incubation may show no symptoms and no fever will be able to board a plane. Ebola has not been shown to be transmitted by anything else other than contamination by body fluids from an infected individual. These fluids include urine, feces, vomit, saliva and possibly perspiration. Airborne transmission of Ebola is not considered to be a cause of contamination. Epidemiologists from the CDC and Dallas County are stressing that the flu is highly more contagious and kills more people annually than the total number of deaths from Ebola since its discovery. What is scary about Ebola is the nature of the symptoms and very high mortality rate for those that have been contaminated. In large part, the mortality is high because of the indigenous nature of the virus appearing in areas with little access to healthcare, trained healthcare staff and facilities, poor hygiene and cultural practices that limit containment of an outbreak. Doctors Without Borders (Medicin Sans Frontiere) has been at the forefront of this recent outbreak and recently announced that global powers do need to step up and help to contain Ebola. The Gates Foundation has pledged $50,000,000 to combat this current outbreak and continue research into a possible vaccine. The United States has sent 3,000 troops with medical training to the area to build temporary hospitals, create supply lines and facilitate medical supply distribution. Additional countries and the United Nations are also committed to supporting the effort against Ebola. It’s also about time, as the numbers of diagnosed Ebola cases doubles every two weeks and the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) are predicting close to 1.4 million will have been infected by January 2015 if something isn’t done to curb the outbreak. Researchers and bio labs have experimented with possible vaccines produced from the tobacco plant that may or may have not shown promise – the jury is still out on whether the vaccines administered to the few had an impact. Supplies of this experimental virus have already been used and currently no additional experimental vaccine exists. For those of our clients who do have operations or missions in Western and Central Africa, we do suggest that your employees use caution when in this region. Know your surroundings and avoid congested metropolitan areas, rural towns and villages where there might be a suspected outbreak, do not shake hands or hug others unless absolutely necessary, carry hand sanitizer and use it often (although the virus does die when in direct contact with bleach,) do not share drinking vessels, avoid public restrooms as much as possible and monitor your own health by knowing that Ebola presents itself first with a temperature and then severe flu-like symptoms. While the monitoring period for incubation is 21-days, symptoms can present themselves as early as 2-days after transmission. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us with any concerns. We are happy to work with your company and your employees to facilitate question and answer sessions to alleviate any fears and keep you all safe and healthy. The Travel Doctor 214.361.0995 www.thetraveldoctor.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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