2 Oct 2014

US learn from Nigeria’s experience containing Ebola Outbreak

Since the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in the United States of America on Tuesday, the country’s health authorities have been citing Nigeria’s experience at containing the outbreak of the virus as a success story that should be emulated in the US.

Several US health experts and the Director-General of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Dr. Thomas Frieden, appeared on CNN on Tuesday and Wednesday during which they spoke of Nigeria’s quick and coordinated action by some of its top doctors to contain the outbreak in Lagos and Port Harcourt after the disease was imported into the country by Liberian Patrick Sawyer.
“For those who say it’s hopeless, this (Nigeria) is an antidote — you can control Ebola. It won’t blow over — you have to make a rapid, intense effort,” said Frieden.
However, fear has gradually spread in the US since the CDC confirmed that a Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived in Dallas, Texas, on September 20 and fell ill on September 24 had tested positive for the virus.

This was made worse by the announcement yesterday that some school-age children had been in contact with the US Ebola patient being treated in Dallas, according to Texas Governor, Rick Perry.

Five students at four different schools have come in contact with the Ebola patient, Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles added, but none has exhibited symptoms.

The children are being monitored at home, and the schools remain open, Miles said. Between 12 and 18 people have been identified as coming in contact with the patient, officials added.

Concern about the possible spread of the killer virus came less than a day after the CDC announced that, for the first time, a person with Ebola was diagnosed on American soil.

How that case was handled has sparked many serious questions.
 

The patient, a man, walked into an emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on September 26. A nurse asked him for his travel history, while he was in the emergency room, and the patient said he had travelled to Africa, said Dr. Mark Lester, executive vice-president of Texas Health Resources.

But that information was not "fully communicated" to the medical team, Lester said.
The man, who had just flown from Liberia to the US, underwent basic blood tests, but not an Ebola screening, and was sent home with antibiotics, said Dr. Edward Goodman with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Two days later, on September 28, the man returned to the facility, where it was determined that he probably had Ebola. He was then isolated. He tested positive for the virus Tuesday, health officials said.

The CDC, which has helped lead the international response to Ebola, advised that all medical facilities should ask patients with symptoms consistent with Ebola for their travel history.

The CDC has ramped up a national effort to stem the spread of Ebola, and in September President Barack Obama spoke at CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

He called the virus a global health and security threat, and pledged US assistance to the affected countries to try to stem the tide of the disease.

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