How infectious is Ebola?

ebola infection ratesSo there’s a case of Ebola in the US, and the disease has already killed 70 percent of those it infected in West Africa. Is this the beginning of the end for humanity? Not even close, and here’s why.

The US case of Ebola is the first to be identified outside of Africa. The patient, who has now died from the disease, didn’t know that he was infected straight away, so wasn’t quarantined by the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas for four days. This sounds like a long time to be walking around being contagious, but medical authorities have assured the public not to panic. In fact, officials seem pretty sure that this particular case would not lead to an outbreak in the US. “I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or case, of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country,” director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tom Frieden told the press earlier this week…

…According to Michaeleen Doucleff at NPR, while many factors influence a disease’s reproduction number, the fact that Ebola’s is transmitted via bodily fluids, rather than the air, is probably why it’s rated so low. And because Ebola isn’t contagious until the patient starts showing symptoms – at which point the Dallas patient had checked himself in to the hospital – all that needed to be done to contain the spread of the disease in the US is to isolate anyone at the hospital who might have been infected. CNBC reports that as of yesterday, none of the 48 people who potentially came in contact with Dallas patient have developed any definite symptoms. “Then R0 drops to zero. And Texas is free of Ebola,” says Doucleff. Edited from How infectious is Ebola?.

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