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Ebola: US Health Authorities Learn From Nigeria’s Containment Experience

Since the first case of Ebola was
diagnosed in the United States of America
on Tuesday, the country’s health
authorities have been citing Nigeria’s
experience at containing the outbreak of
the virus as a success story that should be
emulated in the US.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director-General of
the Centre for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, among other
health experts, appeared on CNN on
Tuesday andWednesday during which
they spoke of Nigeria’s quick and
coordinated action by some of its top
doctors to contain the outbreak in Lagos
and Port Harcourt after the disease was
imported into the country by Liberia-born
American Patrick Sawyer.
“For those who say it’s hopeless, this
(Nigeria) is an antidote — you can control
Ebola. It won’t blow over — you have to
make a rapid, intense effort,” said
Frieden.
However, fear has gradually spread in the
US since the CDC confirmed that a
Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan,
who arrived in Dallas, Texas, on
September 20 and fell ill on September 24
had tested positive for the virus.
This was made worse by the
announcement on Wednesday that some
school-age children had been in contact
with the US Ebola patient being treated in
Dallas, according to Texas Governor Rick
Perry.
Five students at four different schools
have come in contact with the Ebola
patient, Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles
added, but none has exhibited symptoms.
The children are being monitored at
home and the schools remain open, Miles
said. Between 12 and 18 people have
been identified as coming in contact with
the patient, officials added.
Concern about the possible spread of the
killer virus came less than a day after CDC
announced that for the first time, a
person with Ebola was diagnosed on
American soil.
How that case was handled has sparked
many serious questions.
The patient, a man, walked into an
emergency room at Texas Health
Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on
September 26. A nurse asked him for his
travel history, while he was in the
emergency room, and the patient said he
had travelled to Africa, said Dr. Mark
Lester, executive vice-president of Texas
Health Resources.
But that information was not “fully
communicated” to the medical team,
Lester said.
The man, who had just flown from Liberia
to the US, underwent basic blood tests,
but not an Ebola screening, and was sent
home with antibiotics, said Dr. Edward
Goodman with Texas Health Presbyterian
Hospital.
Two days later, on September 28, the man
returned to the facility, where it was
determined that he probably had Ebola.
He was then isolated. He tested positive
for the virus Tuesday, health officials said.
The CDC, which has helped to lead the
international response to Ebola, advised
that all medical facilities should ask
patients with symptoms consistent with
Ebola for their travel history.
The CDC has ramped up a national effort
to stem the spread of Ebola and in
September President Barack Obama
spoke at CDC headquarters in Atlanta.
He called the virus a global health and
security threat and pledged US assistance
to the affected countries to try to stem
the tide of the disease.

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