Federal Health Officials Say U.S. Ebola Outbreak Unlikely
Federal health officials have reiterated that an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is unlikely and have dismissed calls to place a travel ban on countries affected by the disease, the Wall Street Journal reports.
CDC Director Tom Frieden said, "It's really understandable people are scared; it's a deadly virus, but you have to go back to basics -- the bottom line here is we know how to stop it."
He added that an incident in which the first patient to be diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. was initially released from the hospital without treatment was "a teachable moment" for providers (Portlock/Zibel, Wall Street Journal, 10/5). During an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Frieden said that CDC and other health officials are working to isolate individuals who came in contact with the patient, adding, "We're confident we won't see a large number of [additional] cases from this" (Herb, "Politico Now," Politico, 10/5).
Meanwhile, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci dismissed calls from some U.S. lawmakers to place a travel ban on countries affected by the disease. During an interview on "Fox News Sunday," he said, "When you start closing off countries like that, there's a real danger of making things worse. You isolate them, you can cause unrest in the country. It's conceivable that governments could fall if you isolate them completely."
In addition, Fauci rejected claims that U.S. military personnel who are working to contain the disease in West Africa could be infected. He said those deployed to the area are "well trained; they will not be in direct risk in the sense of contact with individuals" (Wall Street Journal, 10/5).
D.C. Hospitals Rule Out Possible Ebola Cases
In related news, officials at two District of Columbia-area hospitals have ruled out Ebola in two patients who traveled to West Africa and who are being treated for Ebola-like symptoms, the Wall Street Journal reports.
District of Columbia Department of Health and Howard University Hospital officials said they "ruled out" the disease in a patient who exhibited similar symptoms when he arrived at Howard. Meanwhile, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital officials said a patient at the facility does not have Ebola but instead has malaria (Burton, Wall Street Journal, 10/4).
Officials Receive Hundreds of Inquires About Potential Ebola Cases
Also in related news, Frieden said CDC officials have received hundreds of inquires about potential Ebola cases since July, which are likely related to increased focus on the disease, Reuters reports.
Frieden said news of the U.S. diagnosis of Ebola has made hospitals across the country more alert to checking incoming patients for Ebola-like symptoms, particularly if the patients have recently traveled to areas affected by the outbreak (Begley et al., Reuters, 10/5).
Specifically, CDC is currently fielding around 800 calls each day from health care facilities and others who are concerned individuals might be infected with the disease. However, the Dallas-based patient so far is the only confirmed case in the U.S. (Levine, Politico, 10/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.