By Shian Omar | Features Editor
Dallas residents still fear contracting the Ebola virus more than a month after the first case diagnosed in the United States was first treated in Dallas.
The first person to be diagnosed with Ebola on U.S soil was Thomas Eric Duncan at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. All West African countries take the temperatures of passengers before they board the plane, and although Mr. Duncan did not have a fever when he left Liberia, he did have Ebola.
Three children were pulled from Wallace Elementary in Richardson ISD as a precaution after it was determined that they may have come in contact with Mr. Duncan. The children were later declared virus-free.
“I personally never felt like I was in risk of getting the virus,” former Presbyterian Hospital intern Sarah Park said. “I had a great experience while I was there, but I understood that Ebola was very serious once the hospital released all of their interns.”
The simple guidelines that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention were not enough for the control or the prevention of the virus at Presbyterian Hospital. Mr. Duncan succumbed to disease Oct. 8, and two nurses taking care of him also contracted the virus. Now, it seems like all of Dallas believes that Presbyterian Hospital is teeming with Ebola. However, a cardiac surgeon at Presbyterian Hospital begs to differ.
“While people are critical of the nurse here (Amber Vinson) who traveled on a Frontier flight just before becoming sick with Ebola, how about a doctor who was in West Africa treating Ebola patients who then did not place himself in some sort of quarantine?” cardiac surgeon Melvin Platt said. “Regarding Ebola, it is still significantly affecting people’s willingness to come to the hospital, which is completely irrational.”
The conversation over Ebola has become nearly ubiquitous in the United States. President Barack Obama also covered the issue in his weekly video address in mid-October.
“What we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America,” President Obama said. “This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear.”
With all of the inefficiencies and problems that arose with the first cases in America, the White House is currently working on new guidelines for how to approach Ebola. In the Dallas area itself, the Methodist Richardson Medical Center on Campbell Road has become the new Ebola treatment facility for the area.
Ebola is a virus that traditionally has a mortality rate of 50 percent, but according to the World Health Organization, this year the mortality rate has risen to 70 percent.
The virus started in 1976 along the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and there are several strains of the virus, but the Zaire Ebola is the most lethal, and the only one currently being treated in the United States.
This virus has being a primary concern for many people and has caused them, in fact, to overlook more threatening issues, like influenza.
“About 30,000 people will die from the flu this year,” Dr. Platt said.