Ebola in the U.S.
How common is this disease?
At this time, the number of cases in the United States is very limited, and there are no reported cases in Tennessee. Since you must come into direct contact with an infected person to contract the virus, your risk is very low.
What Are the Risk Factors?
The most important factor is direct exposure to someone who is symptomatic with the disease. If you are not near anyone who falls into this category, you are not at risk.
Do the Cases I See in the News about Ebola affect me?
Stories about Ebola cases in the U.S. have drawn considerable attention to this disease. Many people are creating Doomsday scenarios about this virus because of the high mortality rate for those who contract the disease in Africa. It is important to note that the mortality rate for Ebola patients in the U.S. is much lower. This is due to the higher level of medical care available in our country. In addition, many people are under the impression that this is a “new” virus, but there have been outbreaks in Africa as early as 1976.
Who Is at Risk?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has identified four levels of risk:
- High Risk
- Needle sticks or mucous membrane exposure to blood or body fluids of a person with Ebola while the person was symptomatic
- Exposure to the blood or body fluids (including but not limited to feces, saliva, sweat, urine, vomit, and semen) of a person with Ebola while the person was symptomatic without proper protective equipment
- Some Risk
- Being in direct contact while using (appropriate PPE) with a person with Ebola while the person was symptomatic
- Being in close contact in households, healthcare facilities, or community settings with a person with Ebola while the person was symptomatic
- Close contact is defined as being for a prolonged period of time while not wearing appropriate PPE within approximately 3 feet (1 meter) of a person with Ebola while the person was symptomatic
- Low Risk (but not zero)
- Having been in a country with widespread Ebola virus transmission within the past 21 days and having had no known exposures
- Having brief direct contact (e.g., shaking hands), while not wearing appropriate personal protection equipment, with a person with Ebola while the person was in the early stage of disease
- Brief proximity, such as being in the same room for a brief period of time, with a person with Ebola while the person was symptomatic
- No Risk
- Contact with an asymptomatic person who had contact with person with Ebola
- Contact with a person with Ebola before the person developed symptoms
- Having been more than 21 days previously in a country with widespread Ebola virus transmission
- Having been in a country without widespread Ebola virus transmission and not having any other exposures as defined above
Unless you have traveled to an area where Ebola is currently active or have had contact with someone who has the disease and is symptomatic, you are not at risk at this time.