The Epidemic Of South Africa

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At the height of the most recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa, fear amongst American citizens about the possibility of a more local outbreak resulted in representatives being pressured into creating harsh policies. One option that representatives of several states endorsed was a mandatory quarantine of all individuals arriving from Ebola-stricken countries. This policy was implemented despite severe criticism from several medical professional organizations including Mèdecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), the American Medical Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (Park, “Quarantines ‘Not Grounded on…show more content…
This fear was indicative of national health agencies and representatives failure to communicate the low risk of transmission. Ebola is only communicable through direct contact with bodily fluids after a person has begun to display symptoms, the first of which is often a fever (“Ethics and Ebola: Public Health Planning and Response”, 14-15). However, even at the start of symptom expression, people are unlikely to transmit the disease; virion count is so low during the first couple days after the onset of fever that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for Ebola often returns false negatives during this period (Drazen 1). Thomas Eric Duncan, the first case of Ebola diagnosed on US soil, is a prime example of the virus’s low transmission rate at the onset of symptoms. His family, whom he lived in close quarters with for several days while symptomatic, never contracted the disease, whereas the nurses caring for him towards the end of his life when his virion count was high, did. Moreover, the level of the health infrastructure and equipment that is available in the United States is drastically better “staffed, trained, and equipped” than in West Africa. When a patient begins exhibiting symptoms here, they can be quickly isolated, which was not possible in Liberia. The lack of any public health authorities to monitor cases of the
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