Headline News: Ebola Comes to the U.S.

Fearbola Cartoon

Mike Luckovich, editorial cartoonist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, satirizes the fears of Ebola entering the U.S. in his August 5, 2014, cartoon. Used with the permission of Mike Luckovich and the Cartoonist Group. All rights reserved

Here are the facts: in all, a total of 11 patients were treated for Ebola in the United States.  Four of these patients were diagnosed in the U.S., and seven were diagnosed with Ebola in West Africa and transported to the U.S. for treatment. Two patients died, and nine patients survived.

It was always clear to public health professionals that a widespread Ebola epidemic would not occur in this country: our advanced healthcare and laboratory systems, our infection controls, and our public health infrastructure guaranteed that even if Ebola were imported to the U.S., it would be “stopped in its tracks.”  There was no absolute guarantee, however, that some Ebola cases would not be imported to or transmitted on our shores.

In summer 2014, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was a top international story. Media attention in the U.S. increased exponentially in August when two American healthcare workers who had been treating patients in Liberia were admitted to Emory University Hospital—walking distance from CDC headquarters. These events, followed by the death of a Liberian citizen from Ebola in Dallas, Texas, marked the start of intense scrutiny of CDC’s role in protecting the American public from threats such as Ebola, along with public fear, political theater, and constant and sometimes sensationalized media coverage.

Emory University ETU

The Serious Communicable Disease Unit (SCDU) at Emory University Hospital where patients Kent Brantly, Nancy Writebol, and two additional patients were isolated and treated for Ebola. Courtesy of Emory University

7. Ebola Comes to the U.S.