Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States, died yesterday. He had been in isolation at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital since September 28. Duncan, who was a citizen of Liberia, traveled to Dallas in an attempt to reconnect with his long-lost son.

On September 30, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed a report that a patient in Dallas, Texas had indeed contracted the deadly disease. Since then, the nation’s attention has been on Duncan.

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is an infectious virus that has swept across West Africa, claiming over 3,000 lives, with total cases exceeding over 7,000.

Panic in the US was escalated on September 30 when, according to The New York Times on October 7, 14 cases have been treated outside West Africa. That includes 6 known cases being treated in the United States (receiving treatment in Dallas, Atlanta, Omaha hospitals), 3 in Spain (Madrid), 1 in UK (London), France (Paris), Norway (Oslo), and Germany (Hamburg and Frankfurt). Out of all of those cases, only 3 patients have died so far, 2 having been ones treated in Spain and 1 here in the U.S.

The first known transmission outside of West Africa was made public on October 6, and reportedly to have been a sanitary technician nurse in Spain.

The question now is this: should we be panicked in the United States? Can Ebola be kept at bay even after the death of the first patient diagnosed on U.S. soil? CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, thinks it can be contained. “Ebola can be scary. But there’s all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading,” Frieden said at a news conference on September 30.

Regardless of whether or not Ebola poses as a real threat and spreads across America, it is important for everyone to be aware of what Ebola is, how it can be contracted, as well as contained.

As alarming as the Ebola outbreak has been internationally, another illness is affecting school children in the U.S., and might prove to be more threatening and deadly, especially to young Americans.

Fear and panic struck many households across the US after news broke that a 4-year old New Jersey boy suffering from Enterovirus D68 died on September 24.

Hundreds of school children have reportedly been contracting the respiratory disease since August, and many are coming down with it and receiving hospitalization across the country daily. Yet, Enterovirus is not a new surfacing illness, in fact, Mark Pallansch, a virologist and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Viral Diseases says that “When you have a bad summer cold, often what you have is an enterovirus,”.

According to the CDC, “In general, infants, children and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become ill. That’s because they do not yet have immunity from previous exposures to these viruses. We believe this is also true for EV-D68. Adults can get infected with enteroviruses, but they are more likely to have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

Children with asthma may have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection.”

There have been 594 confirmed hospital cases of the Enterovirus in 43 states since it surfaced in August—not including, of course, mild Enterovirus cases not considered serious enough for parents to give their children medical attention/hospitalizations— with medical officials in 7 states investigating 28 cases of paralysis occurring in some children, which may be linked to aftermath from this strain of EV-D68.

USA Today reported on October 7 that the Enterovirus may be winding down, though.

Fewer cases were reported in the first week of October, in contrast to the previous two months. “Officials hope that as the virus wanes, fewer people will suffer catastrophic complications. A few people with the virus have died, although it was not clear the virus caused their deaths, and there have been a dozen or more cases of polio-like limb paralysis.”

Rachael Read
Staff Writer

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