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Could Ebola sneak across U.S. border?
Posted By Drew Zahn On 07/28/2014 @ 4:39 pm In Front Page,Health,U.S.,World | No Comments
The Ebola virus presents a particularly nasty way to die.
“Early symptoms of the disease include … sudden fever, chills and muscle aches,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, explains. “Around the fifth day after onset of symptoms, a skin rash can occur. Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, abdominal pain and diarrhea may follow. Symptoms become increasingly severe and may include jaundice, severe weight loss, mental confusion, shock and multi-organ failure.”
There is no known cure or vaccine for the virus, and as many as 90 percent of those who contract the disease die from it.
But what are the odds of it infecting the U.S.? And could the porous southern border provide an avenue for Ebola to enter the country?
Though no case of the disease has ever been reported in the U.S., the World Health Organization admits the current outbreak in Western Africa – which has infected at least two Americans working in relief efforts there – is the worst on record. Doctors Without Borders warns the outbreak is “out of control.”
So far, the current outbreak has infected over 1,200 people and killed at least 672 in nearly a dozen countries in Western Africa, where fruit bats are thought to be the natural host of the virus, and the disease spreads through close contact with the infected or their bodily fluids.
But travel authorities and news outlets were alarmed over the weekend when a Liberian man infected with Ebola boarded a plane and brought the disease to Lagos, Nigeria, Africa’s largest city, with 21 million people.
The current outbreak, Reuters reports, is the first time that Ebola has appeared in heavily populated urban areas and international travel hubs.
So far, the CDC is dismissing worries of the disease reaching U.S. shores.
“There is no significant risk in the U.S.,” a CDC statement declared Monday. “While it is unlikely that the disease would spread if imported into the United States, the recent infections in U.S. healthcare workers working abroad highlight the need for vigilance. CDC is reminding U.S. healthcare workers of the importance of testing and isolating sick travelers returning from the affected areas.”
In fact, two U.S. health-care workers – Dr. Kent Brantly, a 32-year-old family practice physician working in Liberia with Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse and Nancy Writebol, a volunteer working out of the same facility with the relief organization SIM – have contracted the disease while working abroad.
What’s more alarming, however, are reports confirmed by the National Border Patrol Council, or NBPC, and United Nations that some of the detainees apprehended attempting to enter the U.S. illegally are from Africa – where the Ebola outbreak is thriving.
After a group of adult males from the three Asian nations was apprehended at the U.S. border over the weekend, Albert Spratte, a spokesman for Local 3307 of the NBPC, reiterated that the Rio Grande is being crossed by more than just Central Americans.
“This should be a reminder to the public that unaccompanied minors and family units are not the only ones crossing into the U.S. illegally,” Spratte told Breitbart News. “On the same day, I also witnessed 3-4 Chinese females at the processing station. The media are concentrating on the Central American families and minors, and they are not covering the fact that we are still getting people, often adult males, who are coming from other nations.”
In 2012, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime released a report confirming, “Central Americans are not the only ones being smuggled through Mexico to the United States. Irregular migrants from the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia), as well as South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, India), China, and other African and Asian states are being smuggled through Central America.”
“Border Patrol agents in our sector have in the past apprehended aliens from Iraq, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Israel and from many other nations,” Spratte continued. “People think this is just about Mexico and Central America, but it isn’t. People from all over the world are trying to sneak into the United States.”
Despite Department of Homeland Security assurances that it has “health controls in place to minimize any possible health risks,” including health screenings for detainees, U.S. Border Patrol sources reveal those screenings only come after processing, exposing the agents themselves to any diseases the detainees may be carrying.
Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, for example, is concerned about the spread of scabies among both immigrants and those working with them.
“A lot of people [are] coming in with the disease,” Cabrera told a local TV station, “and it seems to be spreading, not just within the McAllen [Texas] station, but throughout the [Rio Grande] Valley and to some of our agents.”
A spokesperson for the CDC told WND the Center isn’t directly involved in patient care for the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, but referred to WND to the Administration for Children and Families, or ACF, instead.
“If it is determined that children have certain communicable diseases or have been exposed to such communicable diseases, they are placed in a program or facility that has the capacity to quarantine,” ACF spokesman Kenneth Wolfe told WND. “Children with serious health conditions are treated at local hospitals. The cost of this care is fully paid by the federal government.”
“Recently, HHS took additional measures to ensure that children previously screened, vaccinated and medically cleared while in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody had not fallen ill while pending transport to Unaccompanied Alien Children program facilities,” he added. “CBP medical providers already check flight manifests against children who were identified as sick overnight; if there are any concerns, children destined for a DoD installation are pulled from the flight. Under the updated protocol, HHS staff also take the children’s temperatures shortly before flights. Any child with a fever and cough or sore throat is pulled from the flight, isolated from others and seen by a medical professional.”
CDC sources repeatedly insist the U.S. is in no significant danger of an Ebola outbreak.
Dr. Stephan Monroe, deputy director of CDC National Center for Emerging & Zoonotic Diseases, further told reporters Monday even if a case did show up in the U.S., he expects it would be contained by the basic practices of Western medicine.
“We’re confident the standard care of U.S. [hospitals] would prevent much of the transmission would a case show up here,” Monroe said.
Nonetheless, the CDC also maintains an “interim guidance” release on the disease for airlines, the Bureau of Customs and Border Patrol and the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA.
Among the guidelines are for airline personnel to keep people suspected of having the disease from “close contact” with other people.
“Examples of close contact include kissing or embracing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, close conversation (less than 3 feet), physical examination and any other direct physical contact between persons,” the guidelines clarify. “Close contact does not include activities such as walking by a person or briefly sitting across a room.”
The CDC also told reporters Monday that a Level 2 alert was being issued, recommending those traveling to Africa “avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids.”
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