Ebola Arrives in Atlanta

John M.

Staff Writer

Five weeks ago two patients infected with Ebola arrived at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The Ebola virus started in West Africa six months ago and has infected thousands of people. The infected Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, had been stationed in Africa as missionaries trying to help treat infected patients. As news spread of the patients’ arrival in Atlanta, many expressed concern that the virus might start spreading around America. However, the staff at Emory, who thinks it is important for people to know more about this infectious disease, wants people to understand that the virus will not diffuse in America

Ebola has taken its toll on West Africa. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease causes the following symptoms: fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and lack of appetite. As of August 20, 2014, there have been around 2,615 reported cases and around 1,427 deaths according to the World Health Organization (WHO). These statistics are what is causing great fear of the virus. Some people have sounded their concerns about the virus at Emory, including Anna Giddens a senior at Woodstock High School, who said, “It can be really dangerous to the people around them, and it is hard to imagine that it won’t spread.”  The WHO says that the virus spreads by contact with blood and bodily fluids. The staff at Emory is doing everything they can to stop the spread of this disease.

As of September 2, 2014, the patients had been released from the isolation unit at Emory Hospital. The isolation unit, which has designated rooms for doctors to change into special biohazard suits, was created with ties to the CDC, which is based in Atlanta. Many people have feared that the virus will spread outside of Emory’s isolation unit, but strict precautions were taken. In addition to the doctors wearing biohazard suits, the patients also wore biohazard suits to prevent outside contamination, and family members visited through a window into the isolation room. Despite these precautions, some people are still nervous over the Ebola virus potentially infecting more Americans.

At the same time, there are many people who believe that Atlanta is the right place to treat those with the Ebola virus. Mrs. Chelsea Sexton, WHS science teacher, noted, “We have the best facilities in the world to measure and treat the outbreak.” Mrs. Sexton refers to the CDC, which is based out of Atlanta and continues to research and develop cures for diseases. Junior Issac Van Buren added, “They have the CDC here, and we can have tests on the virus.” Some believe that being infected with the disease is good for greater knowledge and research on the disease. Mr. Gordon Weaver, a special needs paraprofessional, added, “I think we should [treat Ebola patients] because the CDC is here, and we’ll never get the opportunity to test it if we are not infected with it.” With the Ebola outbreak and many people getting sick came a great rush of humanitarian support.Ebola B

The Americans who became infected, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were part of a humanitarian relief effort, Samaritan’s Purse Charity; they, along with numerous others, have risked their lives to go to West Africa in an attempt to help Ebola patients get better.  The two Americans arrived in Atlanta via Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta on August 2nd and August 5th.  Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not banned flights to West Africa, they are taking precautions to prevent infected people from arriving in America and spreading the disease. This recent Ebola scare has led to the question: Should we be concerned if non-Americans are sick with a deadly disease?

The recent infection has led people to ask: Should we care for non-American citizens? People who say no to this question fear that our citizens might get infected, much like the two Americans who caught Ebola. Mr. Weaver commented on caring for citizens not in our borders, saying, “No, not for foreign countries; you should take care of citizens within your own borders, then help out other nations.” People who say as a nation we should care say that it is the right thing to do to help other citizens. Mrs. Sexton commented, “I think that we should do what we can do to help prevent an epidemic.” Although the outbreak is considered an epidemic in Africa (a widespread outbreak), it is still not a pandemic, which is a global outbreak of a disease or virus. Giddens added, “Despite the risk of our own people, we should help the people [those infected with Ebola].” Humanitarian groups like the United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF is helping infected children in Africa. All this funding has led to extended research on Ebola and is leading to the testing of a new Ebola vaccine. This discussion will continue; however, the price has already been paid.

Although the world has a better understanding of Ebola, which is beneficial, many people in West Africa have already been infected, and some have even died. The discussion of helping others will continue, but what is not disputed is that two Americans nearly died of Ebola just so they could help other humans infected with a terrible disease. Thanks to the staff at Emory, the infected Americans are getting well and have been released. Although we cannot go back in time and change the spread of Ebola; we can still hope for a quick recovery of people who are infected and hope that we do not have to live in a world where we fear diseases and epidemics.


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