4 reasons not to fear Ebola
@TheDocSmitty answers our questions
Let me start by saying that the work Dr. Kent Brantly was doing was absolutely amazing. I cannot imagine putting myself at that level of risk to help people who, otherwise, would have no help. I have said many prayers for him and his family over the past week and hope for complete recovery for both him and Nancy Writebol (another aid worker who was diagnosed with Ebola and has now returned to the United States).
I am getting many questions about Ebola virus. Most of the direct questions center on the fact that two Americans are returning back to the United States after being diagnosed.
Here are some of the questions I have received (and where I heard them):
1. What is Ebola virus? - Media
Ebola is a virus that causes fever, weakness, sore throat, headache and muscle pain. It can and often does progress to cause kidney and liver problems as well as internal and external bleeding. This bleeding can, and unfortunately often does, lead to death. There is no specific treatment for Ebola, but patients often require intensive monitoring in an ICU setting to control their symptoms and bleeding.
2. How fast could an outbreak of Ebola virus spread? – Abilene friends
Cases of Ebola virus, to this point, have happened in accidental lab exposures and in sub-Saharan Africa. Because of the fact that Ebola is transmitted via blood and body fluids, outbreaks tend to start because families have the responsibility of burying their own family members who have died from Ebola. No one knows how long Ebola virus can live inside a human body thus making this the likely cause of sustained outbreaks in these areas.
Secondly, patients with Ebola are not contagious until they are demonstrating symptoms. This is why anyone returning from Africa who develops fever should seek medical attention immediately. If people who could have potentially been exposed are isolated quickly, it is unlikely that we will ever have a case of Ebola transmitted in the United States.
3. Is there a vaccine available to protect our kids? – Clinic patients
At this point, there is no reason to worry about your children and Ebola virus. We had families keeping their children from traveling within the area for a field trip last week due to their fear. This is an unfounded concern at this point … avoid traveling to sub-Saharan Africa and you should be covered.
Regarding a vaccine for Ebola, there are trials going on to develop vaccines but they are not likely to be used in the United States as the risk of infection here is low.
4. Should we really be flying someone who we know has Ebola to the United States? – Social media
The answer is definitely, yes! There is no risk to the general public from Ebola virus. Ebola virus is transmitted through blood and body fluids. The doctors at the CDC and Emory University are specifically trained to treat patients but avoid contact, which could lead to the infection spreading. Treating Dr. Brantley and Nancy Writebol in the United States gives them their best chance of survival.
Kent Smith is an attorney and the associate general counsel of the legal department at Cook Children’s. He’s also a friend of Dr. Brantly. It’s interesting to get his perspective on this and I thought you might want to see it …
About the author
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.