By Samer Koutoubi, MD, PhD
Faculty Member, Public Health at American Public University
As the first case of Ebola surfaced in Texas in a patient who arrived from Liberia, we all have to ask ourselves, “Are we ready for the Ebola virus?” Do public health officials and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a concrete plan to stop this contagious disease from spreading?
We all have to have confidence that public health officials in the U.S. are ready to detect, isolate, and treat every case of Ebola virus. It is equally important for the public to be educated on how Ebola is transmitted and protective measures to stop the outbreak from spreading.
Ebola can be spread via contact with infected animals or with blood or any body fluid of infected individuals. The virus can also be spread through contact with any medical instrument that has been contaminated by contact with infected individuals. International travelers pose a risk to themselves and the entire country when traveling to West Africa.
Any individual with severe viral illness with weakness, high fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and/or bleeding from nose and gum should seek immediate care. The disease starts with fever and the incubation period is between 2-21 days. There may be common gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Public health officials should continue to work with the CDC, international partners such as the World Health Organization, and international government personnel to monitor the development of the Ebola virus. Now is the time to be diligent in following our protocols for monitoring any new infectious disease cases and our standard policy of protection in hospitals and other areas, such as our borders.
The United States has the resources at hospitals, emergency rooms, and outpatient clinics to protect people from this threat. Now is the time for clinical personnel, including physicians, nurses, and medical staff, to be on high alert to recognize new infections disease cases and ready to follow defined infectious disease protocols and policies on short notice.
In public health we trust!
About the Author
Dr. Koutoubi faculty member in the public health program at American Public University. He earned his PhD in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida International University in 2001. He earned his MD degree in 1988 from Iuliu Hațieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.