IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The outbreak of Ebola continues to grow in western Africa, raising concerns around the globe and right here at home. Infectious Disease Specialist Richard Nathan, at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center said we shouldn't be too concerned, but if a case were to appear in our region, we will be prepared.
The World Health Organization said the suspected number of deaths from the Ebola virus is now more than 1,000. The cases are in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Epidemiologist Ken Anderson with the Eastern Idaho Public Health District said if a breakout was to occur it would be from those who are traveling in and out of the United States from West Africa.
"We have sent out a health alert to physicians in our area to make them aware of people traveling or who have worked in those countries in the past 21 days," said Anderson.
Now the arrival of two infected Americans on U.S. soil is causing some people to panic, but EIRMC said there is little risk of an outbreak.
"We don't reuse needles or syringes, which they have traced in other outbreaks and we practice universal precautions in hospitals and medical settings," said Nathan.
Nathan also said if someone came in with symptoms, the hospital would test that person's blood.
"We would draw some blood and send it to the health department. The health department would sent it to the Centers for Disease Control," he said.
If the results come back positive, the infected person would stay in one of several isolation rooms.
"It is really hard for Ebola to jump from person-to-person it is really a matter of coming in direct contact with bodily fluids," Nathan said.
The health district would also take the proper precautions of testing those who have been in contact with the infected person. There is an experimental drug that helps, but it's not FDA-approved. EIRMC said its use would have to depend on the case. Symptoms of the virus include fever and internal bleeding. Certain bats living in African forests can also be carriers.