In a world where we can travel the globe by jet, diseases that were once thought to plague faraway places can now strike close to home.
The U.S. had to learn this the hard way. In 2014, a patient harboring Ebola returned home to Dallas, Texas from Liberia. Within 15 days of this person’s arrival, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had confirmed two secondary cases in nurses who were treating the infected patient.
Ebola virus is very easily contracted from body fluids — a mere ten viral particles will do it — and people who get it have up to a 78 percent chance of dying. Health care workers are among the most vulnerable.
According to a 2015 report by the World Health Organization, health care workers can have an infection rate up to 32 times higher than the general population in certain parts of the world. Infected health care workers can unknowingly spread the disease, and once sick, are unable to care for patients.
In addition to a human toll, Ebola also exacts an economic one. Treatment of an Ebola patient in the U.S. can range from $30,000-$50,000 per day, limiting the number of hospitals who can treat it, and making its spread a very costly problem.
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