With the goal of clarifying science and promoting calm, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing routine updates on the outbreak of Ebola, which is contained entirely in West Africa despite isolated individual cases elsewhere.
But what do we really need to know?
A series of factsheets clearly communicates how the virus is transmitted, what risks we face from exposure, how patients with Ebola are cared for, and what is being done to control Ebola’s spread.
The CDC’s online Q & A makes many of these points:
- Ebola is not spread through casual contact; therefore, the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is very low.
- We know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. This is standard public health expertise and knowledge.
- The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States.
Faculty, staff and students at the Mailman School continue to be actively involved in research into Ebola treatment, care, and prevention, and in providing support to the U.S. government, World Health Organization, and other NGOs working to stop the spread of Ebola and to care for those affected.
To learn more about the current state of global interventions and why this outbreak is different from its predecessors, listen to Professor Stephen Morse and Estrella Lasry of Medecins Sans Frontieres speaking at a recent ICAP Grand Rounds.