NEW YORK, October 2 (RIA Novosti) – The discovery of the first confirmed case of Ebola in the US state of Texas could kick-start a tougher response to the virus, Dr. Peter Clevestig, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told RIA Novosti Thursday.
"Several other suspected cases of Ebola outside of West Africa have proven negative, but the Texas case may be the tipping point for properly mobilizing the international community to act. However, it could also be evidence that any such mobilization may come a little too late," Clevestig said.
"Time will tell whether readiness plans currently in place in developed countries are sufficient to stop the further spread of the virus. Deficiencies in planning, poor communication and other weak links persist. For example, one difficulty highlighted in the US concerns the lack of agreed procedures for proper handling and disposal of clinical wastes from Ebola patients," Clevestig added.
A Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, became the first person to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States on Sunday. He was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after health workers mistakenly sent him home on September 25, as he was not exhibiting any symptoms specific to the disease.
Duncan is believed to have contracted Ebola while he was in Liberia two weeks ago.
On Thursday, NBC reported citing Texas health officials that about 80 people might have come into contact with Duncan before he was hospitalized.
Earlier, the health officials put the number of people who had direct contact with Duncan at 12-18, including five school-age children, although it is not clear whether Duncan was exhibiting Ebola symptoms at the time of the contact.
The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of those infected. Though there is no officially approved medication for the disease, several countries, including Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan are working on developing Ebola vaccines.
The worst Ebola outbreak in history is currently taking place in West Africa. It started in southern Guinea in February and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.
The epidemic has claimed the lives of over 3,000 people, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.