CDC working to stop Ebola outbreak

The death toll is climbing in the Ebola outbreak in western Africa. Among the victims, a U.S. government official who was on his way back to the states. U.S. health officials in west Africa are scrambling to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from reaching the United States.

“Certainly, serious diseases are only a plane ride away,” said Dr. Martin Cetron of the Center for Disease Control.

Right now, U.S. health officials are searching for anyone who may have had contact with this U.S. citizen, Patrick Sawyer. He recently flew from Liberia to the heavily-populated city of Lagos where he died from Ebola on Friday not long before he was supposed to fly home to Minnesota, according to his wife.

“With Patrick’s death, it has hit our front door because he was well known in the community. Everyone knew him, so everyone feels like they lost their best friend or their brother,” said Decontee Sawyer, the Ebola victim’s widow.

And now, two American missionaries working with Ebola victims have become infected and are fighting for their lives – undergoing treatment at an isolation center in Africa. Since March, Ebola has spread across several nations’ borders in Africa, with more than 1,000 cases being reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 600 of those infected have died.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has issued an alert to health care workers in the U.S. to watch out for any patients who may have recently traveled to west Africa and could have contracted the virus. The CDC sent guidance to American Air carriers on how to identify and deal with American passengers displaying signs of Ebola, and how to disinfect aircrafts after an infected passenger leaves the plane.

“Airline carriers, crew members, airports can be a very important partner in that front line,” continued Cetron.

At least one international airline has suspended all flights to Monrovia, Liberia and Freetown in Sierra Leone. Liberia is closing some of its borders, and screening all incoming and outgoing passengers for Ebola at its airports. Problem is, current tests detect Ebola only after a person shows symptoms, and most of the early symptoms are something you see in passengers all the time like fever, sore throat, chills, muscle aches and nausea. The Centers for Disease Control says Ebola poses little risk to the U.S. population because you have to be in direct contact with someone who is ill to become infected. Ebola is not an airborne disease.

Categories: KUSI