The Ebola virus is spreading like wildfire in Africa, and many are wondering if it will make its way to the United States. There are a few reasons why Ebola might spread to the United States. First, there is a lot of travel between the U.S. and Africa. Second, the virus is spreading quickly in countries with weak health systems. And third, in past outbreaks, some people who have been infected with Ebola have flown to the United States for treatment - leading to further infections.
So far, there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. With so much travel between our two continents and a deadly virus on the loose, could it be a matter of time before the virus reaches America? Or is the spread of Ebola in the U.S. unlikely?
What is Ebola?
Ebola virus disease is a serious and deadly illness that affects humans and primates. The Ebola virus causes the disease, which is spread through contact with an infected person's blood or body fluids. Early symptoms of EVD include fever, muscle pain, and headaches, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding. Death typically occurs 6-16 days after symptoms appear. There is no specific treatment for Ebola at this time; however early diagnosis and supportive care can improve the chances of survival.
Will Ebola spread to the U.S.? Why (or why not)?
While it is impossible to predict the future, it definitely could happen. Many think that it is unlikely that Ebola will spread to the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put in place strict protocols for handling patients with Ebola and has been working closely with hospitals, clinics, and health departments across the country to ensure they are prepared. In addition, there have only been a handful of cases of Ebola imported into the United States from other countries, all of which were quickly contained.
One other school of thought, however, says that the risk of cases entering the U.S. will grow quickly if the virus continues to spread unchecked in Africa. So far, the majority of cases have been concentrated in Uganda. But if Ebola were to reach other populous nations such as Nigeria or Ivory Coast, it could become much more difficult to keep track of all the potential contacts and prevent further transmission. This means that the chances of Ebola spreading to the United States would go up significantly.
Reason 1: Travel between the U.S. and Africa
There is a lot of travel between the U.S. and Africa because there are many people from African countries who live in the United States and vice versa. The African diaspora includes thousands (in many estimates, millions) of people with ancestry and families based in Africa who reside outside of the continent. This gives many people ample reason to visit Africa from the United States, or from third countries.
Furthermore, there are many other reasons for this travel, including business, education, family reunions, and tourism. Other people traveling between the United States and African countries include people involved in cultural exchange and humanitarian aid efforts.
The amount of travel between African nations and the United States is truly massive. Prior to Covid-19, more than half a million people traveled from Africa to the United States each year. If this level of travel remains high, and Ebola spreads significantly within Africa, it is very possible that the disease could spread via ship or plane travel into the United States.
Reason 2: Spread within countries with weak health systems
Ebola is naturally found in Africa and is most likely to spread within countries with weak health systems. This is because these countries lack the infrastructure and resources to effectively contain and treat the disease.
The majority of African nations have very weak health systems, which makes them more susceptible to Ebola outbreaks. In addition, many people in Africa do not have access to basic healthcare, which further increases their risk of contracting the disease.
If an outbreak were to occur in one of these countries, it would be very difficult for authorities to control its spread due largely to a lack of resources. As a result, there is a high likelihood that Ebola could potentially spread from Africa into other parts of the world via travel if an outbreak were to occur.
Reason 3: Past outbreaks have led to Ebola cases in the U.S.
There have been past outbreaks of Ebola in Africa that have led to cases in the United States. In 2014, there was a large outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. This outbreak resulted in several cases of Ebola being diagnosed in the United States, including one death.
The first case of Ebola in the United States was confirmed on September 30, 2014, when a man who had traveled from West Africa to Dallas, Texas was diagnosed. This patient (the index case) died on October 8, 2014. Two healthcare workers who had cared for him in Dallas tested positive for EVD but both recovered.
On October 23, 2014, a medical aid worker who had volunteered in Guinea was rushed to the hospital in New York City with suspected EVD. The next day, the diagnosis was confirmed by the CDC. This patient eventually recovered.
Seven other people in the United States were exposed to the virus and became ill while in West Africa before being transported back to hospitals in America via chartered aircraft. Six of these patients recovered from Ebola, but one sadly succumbed to the virus despite treatment.
This previous outbreak demonstrates that it is possible for Ebola to spread from Africa into the United States via travel. If another large-scale outbreak were to occur, it is very likely that there would be more cases of Ebola diagnosed in the United States due to increased travel between African countries and the US during an epidemic.
Will Ebola spread in the United States?
The future of Ebola is impossible to predict, but it could definitely spread to the United States. If the virus continues to spread unchecked in Africa, the risk of cases entering the U.S. will grow quickly. So far, most cases have been concentrated in Uganda, but if Ebola reaches other populous nations such as Nigeria or Ivory Coast, it could become much more difficult to prevent further transmission. This means that the chances of Ebola spreading to the United States would go up significantly.
Ebola-Cases.com tracks global data on the 2022 Ebola virus disease outbreak. You can refer to the United States page to track the number of Ebola cases in the United States in 2022. Because the site is updated daily, this will be one of the first places you will be able to go to view information about any Ebola outbreak in the United States. We will also aggregate and share any information about the number of American Ebola cases and deaths on our Twitter account, so be sure to follow it for up-to-date information on the 2022 Ebola outbreak.