First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low. We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States. In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home. We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus. We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.
Mai Wureh told The Associated Press that her brother, Thomas Eric Duncan, went to a Dallas emergency room on Friday and was sent home with antibiotics. He returned two days later after his condition worsened and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Mark Lester confirmed Wednesday that a nurse asked Duncan on his first visit whether he had been in an area affected by the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands in West Africa, but that “information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team.”
Feeling reassured by your government yet? Keep reading:
Duncan, who is in his mid-40s, came in contact with 12 to 18 people after developing symptoms of the deadly disease, health officials said Wednesday during a news conference at Presbyterian.
Of those contacts, five are Dallas ISD students who attend four campuses: Tasby Middle School, Hotchkiss Elementary School, Dan D. Rogers Elementary and Conrad High School. They aren’t showing symptoms of the virus and officials are now monitoring them at home, Dallas ISD superintendent Mike Miles said.
So don’t worry. Officials are closely monitoring those 12 people. Or . . . 18 people. Or . . . you know. Whatever.
There is, by the way, a second possible case, related to the first.
As another aside, you should be aware that there is a mathemetician who developed a model to predict the severity of Ebola outbreaks — so, science is on this, and you can relax. Read more about it from this October 2012 piece. Or, conversely, read more about it from this September 2014 piece, in which the author of the study says the model is useless to predict this current outbreak (referring to the one in Africa), which is, quote, “out of all proportion and on an unprecedented scale when compared to previous outbreaks.”
I do not recommend panicking. I do recommend that residents of Dallas behave as if they do not trust experts to be omniscient. I especially recommend that they behave as if they do not necessarily trust their government to tell them the truth.