The deadly Ebola virus has officially appeared in the United States, and some of those exposed may be putting the general population at risk.
TMZ is reporting that Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News chief medical editor and correspondent, went on a take-out run to a restaurant in New Jersey known for its soup. If Snyderman did go to the restaurant, she may have placed dozens of people at risk, because Snyderman and her entire crew were supposed to be under voluntary quarantine for potential Ebola infection. In response, the New Jersey Health Department has made the quarantines mandatory.
While in Liberia covering the Ebola crisis epidemic, which according to the CDC has killed 2,300 people in Liberia alone, one of Dr. Snyderman’s team members tested positive for the Ebola virus. The four-member team were flown back to the United States. The team member who tested positive for Ebola, identified by the Daily Mail as 33-year-old cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, was taken to Nebraska Medical Center for treatment, while the rest of the team was asked to voluntarily quarantine themselves.
The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, and semen) of an infected person who is already showing symptoms. The symptoms of Ebola are not all that dissimilar from the flu, and include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach or abdominal pain, unexplained bleeding, and bruising.
The similarity between symptoms of the Ebola virus and symptoms of influenza, combined with a miscommunication by members of the medical team, are believed to be the reason Thomas Eric Duncan, a man who contracted Ebola while in his native Liberia, was sent home by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, rather than tested for Ebola and admitted to the hospital in isolation. Duncan’s condition worsened after he was sent home, and he was rushed back to the hospital by ambulance days later. Duncan later died when efforts to save his life, including the experimental drug Brincidofovir and dialysis, failed.
Texas health officials have been monitoring as many as 50 people who may have had close contact with Duncan, and therefore are at risk of contracting the Ebola virus. This morning, a nurse tested positive for Ebola after she cared for Duncan before he died. She is currently under quarantine at Texas Health Presbyterian, and CDC officials are trying to determine whether the nurse failed to observe protocols, or the protective equipment was defective.
The confirmation of a second case of the Ebola virus, this one the first to be contracted in the United States, has promoted Senator John McCain to demand an “Ebola Czar” be appointed by the Obama administration. The appointment would give constituents a firm grasp of who is control of the monitoring cases of Ebola in the United States, and perhaps more importantly, someone to blame if the confirmed cases balloon to epidemic numbers.
The maximum incubation period (the last point at which an infected person would begin to show symptoms) of Ebola is 21 days, meaning some people exposed to Ebola may already be infected, but not yet showing symptoms. Including Dr. Snyderman and her crew.