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Nurse in Dallas Becomes First Ebola Patient Infected in U.S.; CDC Urges Calm

Perhaps the scariest part of the recent news that a nurse at a Dallas hospital has been diagnosed with Ebola is that no one seems to know exactly how she managed to contract Ebola. Not the hospital where she worked, not the Centers for Disease Control, no one.

However, please keep in mind that you are not going to contract Ebola. The sort of outbreak that began in March in West Africa and continues there to this day is extraordinarily unlikely to occur here, for a multitude of reasons.

Of course, when you hear that no one knows how the nurse managed to contract Ebola, that’s not really the case. Obviously, she contracted it through caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Duncan died last week.

What remains unknown is precisely what safety protocol either failed or wasn’t followed. The nurse, whose name has not been publicly released, remains in treatment now, and investigators are attempting to figure out just what went wrong and how to ensure that it does not happen again.

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden spoke with reporters on Sunday, telling them, “The care of Ebola patients can be done safely, but it’s hard to do it safely. Even a single, inadvertent innocent slip can result in contamination.” It may not be the safest-sounding tidbit, but it certainly doesn’t mean that more cases of infection are likely to continue occurring. This country is well equipped to handle such a disease and prevent its spread.

“Breaking the links in the chain of transmission is the key to preventing further spread,” Frieden said. “That’s how we stopped it in Lagos, Nigeria. That’s how we will stop it in Dallas.”

When Duncan died, fears of contagion spiked around the country. Or, at least, that’s what it looked like if you were watching TV or following Twitter. But despite all that, the story of ‘Outbreak’ is not about to transpire in real life anytime soon, at least not in America.

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