PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ebola has been diagnosed in the United States.
This viral illness kills half the people who come down with it.
So how concerned do we need to be here in the U.S. about catching it?
The good news is, even if people are in the incubation period, unless they’re having vomiting or diarrhea, they are not contagious.
“The individuals who were on the plane with this man really have no risk because he wasn’t symptomatic,” says Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases physician at UPMC. “It’s not like tuberculosis, it’s not like measles, it doesn’t spread through the air. It requires close contact with blood and body fluids.”
While certain groups, such as health care workers and cleaning staff, may be at higher risk because of potential occupational exposure, protective gear and universal precautions lessen the danger.
“It was only the people in contact with him after he developed symptoms when he was on the ground in the United States that should be the focus of contact tracing, and monitoring for symptoms of Ebola,” says Dr. Adalja.
Hospitals need to be aware of Ebola and take measures to contain the virus should a case arrive at their door — by keeping the patient in a closed isolation room and keeping blood draws and other fluid-related procedures to a minimum.
“People who do go in are wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment, gowns, gloves, eye protection, masks,” he says.
While some countries screen departing air passengers by checking for fever, this won’t catch an early case.
“It’s very hard, because Ebola has an incubation period that lasts for 21 days and those people are going to be very difficult to identify,” Dr Adalja added.
Keep in mind, to get Ebola, an infected person has to be somehow actively gushing body fluids. To even get exposure to infected fluids, you have to be less than three feet away.
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