Tidal waves of patients are heading to hospitals and clinics across the United States as the Ebola virus continues to spread in the country. The outbreak, which began in West Africa in 2014, is primarily seen in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Cases have continued to surface in these countries and have spread to France, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We’re definitely feeling the impact of [Ebola],” Dr. Al Amin Yildiz, head of emergency medicine at New York’s Bellevue Hospital Center, told The New York Times. “We are flying in American citizens who have been affected by the [Ebola] crisis in Africa.”
At the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, recent numbers show a 26 percent increase in “Traveler Related Ebola Outbreaks” compared to the same time last year. Nationally, the hospital’s weekly statistics shows a 20 percent rise in those, which most likely includes confirmed cases of Ebola.
Sutter Delta [paramedic] on the scene of the infectious disease station house last night. pic.twitter.com/fWQjuBXLoe — Jody Statham (@JodyStatham) October 24, 2015
Kelsi Spicer, of San Jose, California, who contracted Ebola in West Africa while volunteering, is now at a quarantined health facility in Texas. Since October 9, four Americans from Sierra Leone and Liberia have become infected in the U.S. All four were flown to isolation units, as have 100 other Ebola patients since December 2014.
And while West Africa is still experiencing extensive public health measures, Ebola virus symptoms have started to show up earlier in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta announced last week that a patient tested positive for Ebola in the northwest, and now many hospitals across the U.S. are registering a spike in patients presenting with symptoms of the illness. Among these, cases of Ebola have increased due to traveling to a country that has already seen an Ebola outbreak.
Ebola is spread via direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. It is caused by the Ebola virus, which is carried by the Ebola-like virus. The CDC said that four people have had high fever, a fast-acting virus and signs of a possible infection. Although the patients present with no symptoms, not all Ebola patients who are isolated at hospitals will get sick.
Officials in Minnesota have confirmed their state is no longer required to implement mandatory quarantines for travelers arriving from West Africa. Because California’s Ebola outbreak is still limited, hospitals in California have not adjusted their protocols for caring for those infected with the virus, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Health said.
People cannot be quarantined for long periods of time because being quarantined in a hospital can make patients sicker than they already are, New York City Department of Health spokeswoman said.
Other than people who become infected during other processes like transport or quarantine, doctors are not aware of who else might have the virus. For example, if someone came to the U.S. from West Africa without showing any Ebola symptoms, he or she could still become infected.
“There’s really nothing you can do about that,” Thomas Geisbert, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch said in a statement. “We don’t know who’s at risk for Ebola.”
Reuters contributed to this article.