The Ebola virus could be headed to the United States within a matter of weeks, experts warned in a study published this week in PLOS Currents: Outbreaks.
The analysis warns that as the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa spreads, the likelihood that it reaches Europe and the United States will "increase consistently." The study pegged the odds of the Ebola virus reaching the United States at 18 percent, but listed the chance of it reaching the United Kingdom at between 25 and 28 percent.
The study noted that there is just a 5 percent chance of Ebola occurring in the U.S. today, but the chance are growing greater.
The Ebola virus has actually made its way to the United States already, though in a very controlled setting. American health care workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writerbol both contracted the virus while working with patients in West Africa. They were brought to the United States for treatment, and both have since recovered. Another infected American, Dr. Richard A. Sacra, is now headed to the United States for treatment.
There have been warnings for months that the Ebola virus could move out of the affected African countries. In April, a group of four migrant workers arrived illegally in Pisa, Italy, showing symptoms of the virus. They were isolated and ultimately did not have the virus, but experts warned that a European Ebola outbreak could easily occur.There have been some close calls in the United States as well. In August, a patient in California showed symptoms of the Ebola virus and was put into an isolation room as a precaution.
"In order to protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the [Ebola] virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease. This includes isolation of the patient in a specially equipped negative pressure room and the use of personal protective equipment by trained staff, coordinated with infectious disease specialists."Despite the close calls, there has still not been a reported case of Ebola in the United States.
[Image Via Independent.co.uk]