The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that a widespread outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the US or Europe is unlikely thanks to the advanced healthcare systems in the West.
Christopher Dye, WHO director of strategy, told the BBC that the potential spread of the disease in the West was a “very serious concern”, but an epidemic was improbable.
“We’re confident that in North America and Western Europe, where health systems are very strong, that we’re unlikely to see a major outbreak in any of those places.”
Dye’s comments come after a second infection of Ebola on US soil was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and authorities scramble to trace the 132 people who were on a flight with Amber Vinson, the nurse found to have contracted the disease.
Questions are being asked about the US response to the infectious nature of Ebola, after it was reported that Vinson was cleared to travel on commercial Frontier Airlines flight 1143 by CDC officials despite being monitored for a possible EBola infection after treating Liberian national Thomas Duncan, who died from Ebola last week.
US President Barack Obama has called for a “much more aggressive response” to the threat of Ebola on US soil, but said that the risk of Americans contracting the virus remained “very, very low”.
While nearly 4,500 people have died from the disease in West Africa, from nearly 9,000 infections, interest in the disease and panic about its effects have only made an impact in the West after the first cases of infections in the US and Spain were announced.
This graph from Google Trends shows that despite the first Ebola death in the current outbreak traced back to December last year, people have only shown an interest and searched the web for details about Ebola when the threat is closer to home. The peak on the chart in April corresponds to the arrival of Ebola patients Ken Brantley and Nancy Writebol at hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, while the later peaks correspond to the current small-scale infections in Dallas, Texas and Madrid, Spain.