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First diagnosis of Ebola in United States raises concern


This week, the first case of Ebola was recorded in the United States. A man flying from Liberia to Dallas, Texas had no symptoms on his trip across the Atlantic, but soon after became very ill and was admitted to a local hospital.
Thomas Eric Duncan, according to CNN, is a Liberian citizen whose plan to visit his family and friends in America went horribly awry when he suddenly came down with the disease. Duncan had been aiding Ebola patients in his West African home country before coming to America, even allegedly carrying a pregnant friend home from a hospital when the doctors had to turn her away for lack of space. His friend later died of Ebola.
Although people with Ebola have come to America for treatment, Duncan is the first case diagnosed here. The patient walked around in the general population for the few days between his flights (there were several, with a layover at Dulles in Washington, D.C.—right in our own backyard) and his eventual admittance. Initially, he was sent home with just antibiotics; Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital claimed that a software malfunction disallowed staff from seeing that Duncan had just flown in from Africa, which might have alerted them to the possibility of Ebola. As many as one hundred unsuspecting people came into contact with Duncan before he finally went back to the hospital.
Duncan was quarantined and his partner’s apartment, where he was staying, has been quarantined and cleaned out by a medical waste contractor The Center for Disease Control and Prevention hired. Duncan’s partner and her family members are also allegedly under quarantine. All towels and sheets Duncan used were removed from the home, and the family was originally instructed to stay there until Oct. 19; since then, however, they have been moved to a separate residence to be monitored for any Ebola-like symptoms.
The threat of Ebola is serious—and has been serious since the first diagnosis earlier this year. The United Nations has created and called (for the first time in history) the Mission for Ebola Emergency Response to handle the outbreak. The CDC and both the local and state government in Texas have done what they can and have warned the public about said sudden outbreak. Vice President Joe Biden compared Ebola to ISIS fighters and their recent atrocities, saying that they are the wolves “closest to the door.”
It seems that Ebola is also on everyone’s minds: in the last few weeks, anyway, any time I’ve handed a chapstick or a glass of water to my friend, I’ve asked myself (sometimes out loud) if that person might have Ebola. I make repeated references to this being just like “what happens at the end of the James Franco “Planet of the Apes movie,” when the pilot unknowingly spreads the disease that will kill off all humans with each flight he boards. This joke is becoming increasingly more real because the threat is becoming increasingly more frightening, moving from the backs of our minds to front and center.
The increased fear is warranted. It is a fast-acting virus and has a high mortality rate in the other countries where it’s been discovered and diagnosed. Duncan just went into critical condition this week. Therefore, this is no time to be joking.
At the same time, however, there is no reason to slip into a hysterical panic (as I’ve seen some people do). It’s doubtful that this outbreak—which is, although frightening, certainly small in scope—will exterminate the entire country in a Black Plague-like wave. We can hope and pray that anyone who comes down with Ebola, American or otherwise, will have a speedy recovery and not pass it on. Other than that, we can’t do much else but continue to wash our hands after we go to the bathroom and not share our beers at Craig’s. Be alert, definitely, and be smart—but don’t let fear paralyze you.

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First diagnosis of Ebola in United States raises concern