05 November 2014


Original Story: usatoday.com

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa could reach 10,000 cases a week and U.S. health officials are promising dramatic response to any new domestic outbreaks that signal intercontinental spread of the deadly virus.

The Centers for Disease Control will send a rapid response team to any hospital in the nation that diagnoses another Ebola patient, director Tom Frieden said Tuesday.

He voiced regret that the agency had not done so sooner, with the death of the first patient in Dallas last week and the infection of Nina Pham, a young nurse who cared for him.

"That might have prevented this infection," Frieden said. "We should have put an even larger team on the ground immediately, and we will do that any time there is a confirmed case."

Pham, 26, was reported in good condition as a patient at the hospital where she works. She said in a statement from her bed at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, "I'm doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers.''

Her dog, Bentley, a King Charles Spaniel, has been the focus of an outpouring of support as well, particularly after the nation of Spain put to death Excaliber, a pet dog belonging to an infected care nurse there. Dogs may spread the infection, health officials say.

Dallas spokeswoman Sana Syed said Bentley is being monitored and staying in the former residence of the executive officer at a decommissioned military base, Hensley Field, owned by the city. He was moved from Pham's apartment Monday.

"He's wagging his tail, eating, drinking water," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. "Cute as a button."

Frieden said officials have thus far failed to determine how Pham contracted the virus during treatment of Thomas Eric Duncan, despite using protective clothing and equipment.

The World Health Organization warns that West Africa could see up to 10,000 new cases a week within two months. It said the death rate is now 70% for those infected with Ebola.

WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward provided the grim assesment in Geneva. Previously, the agency had estimated the Ebola mortality rate at around 50 percent overall. By comparison, flu pandemics typically have a death rate under 2 percent.

The organization raised its Ebola death toll tally Tuesday to 4,447 people, nearly all of them in West Africa, out of more than 8,900 believed to be infected.

At the White House, President Obama said that while the U.S. military has made "enormous strides'' in its anti-Ebola mission in West Africa, "The world is not doing enough" to fight Ebola.

"All of us are going to have to do more," Obama said.

Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, said he and his wife will donate $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation to help fight the spreading infection.

In Dallas, federal and county health staffers are monitoring 76 additional people from the hospital who treated or had some interaction with Duncan. That is in addition to 48 people previously being monitored because of their contacts with Duncan outside the hospital.

Rawlings said the 48 people originally being monitored, including four people living inside the apartment with Duncan, have showed no signs or symptoms of Ebola. Their 21-day incubation period ends Sunday.

"I'm not going to celebrate on the sidelines until then," Rawlings said. "But it is somewhat a relief we've been through that middle week and didn't get any signs. Every day goes by on that is good news."

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