Battening down the hatches

President Obama requests $6.18 billion from Congress to help to fight Ebola

By Kenneth Porter
Staff Writer

President Barack Obama has requested a $6.18 billion emergency fund from Congress to help combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa and prevent its spread in the United States, announced an Obama administration official on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Image found on Google.

Image found on Google.

Politico reports that the majority of the money, approximately $4.64 billion, will be used to immediately treat high-risk patients, while the rest, $1.54 billion, will be used as a contingency fund for potential emergencies.

This revelation arrives during what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls “the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered.”

The deadly disease has become increasingly prevalent in West African countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where WHO estimates 4,818 of the 13,042 confirmed victims of Ebola have died as of Nov. 3.

The Ebola virus has commanded the attention of the nation and the world over the past several months.

On Sept. 30, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced that now-deceased Liberian native Thomas Eric Duncan had become the first person diagnosed with the disease in the United States. Thus far, spread of the disease has only included three of the nurses that had direct contact with Duncan during his treatment at a Dallas, Texas hospital.

Those that are infected by the disease face severe symptoms including “fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal (stomach) pain, and unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising),” reads the CDC’s Ebola Fact Page. These symptoms generally occur during an incubation period of 2 to 21 days within exposure to a “infinitesimally small” amount of the virus.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with the feces, saliva, urine, vomit, semen, or other bodily fluids of an infected individual, not through the air like a cold or the flu. Furthermore, a victim is not contagious until they begin showing symptoms, which occurs 2 to 21 days following transmission. The disease has no known cure.

Ebola itself is not a new phenomenon.

The first confirmed cases of the disease were recorded in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has followed patterns of outbreak and remission in the decades since.

However, it is extremely unlikely that the United States could see an Ebola outbreak on the scale of what is being seen throughout Africa.

In a country with a more-developed healthcare system such as the United States, cases of the disease can be easily contained.

“Ebola is not spread through casual contact; therefore, the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is very low,” says the CDC. “We know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: through case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms.”

The disease is much more of a problem in African nations, where quarantining infected individuals can be more difficult, and the lack of a real cure to the disease has discouraged some of the infected from receiving treatment at all.

The United States and the international community have been taking steps to restrain the spread of Ebola in Africa and prevent it from gaining a foothold in bordering continents.

International groups such as Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organization have established a heavy presence throughout Africa, and 70 officers of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. arrived in Liberia in early Nov. to treat Ebola patients

Aid money from the United States would certainly help the current situation overseas. It remains to be seen how President Obama and the newly-elected and Republican-dominated Congress will come together to get any sort of aid approved.

“I think that any help that we can give overseas will be a good thing,” said Jessica Slomba, Schoolcraft student and nursing major. “The health system [in Africa] is very different than the one here. I’m sure that money will be put to good use.”