Misinformation about Ebola could lead to fear

Doctors say it's relatively difficult to get Ebola in the U.S.

Photo Courtesy: MGNonline

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – After recent Ebola scares in Boston, state leaders are reemphasizing there’s no need to be worried about getting Ebola.

On Monday, people in Hazmat suits surrounded an Emirates Airline flight arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport after several passengers reported feeling sick with flu-like symptoms.

On Sunday, a man who had recently visited Liberia and had Ebola-like symptoms was isolated at a health center in Braintree and then transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. None tested positive for Ebola.

Baystate Medical Center Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Sarah Haessler said misinformation on how the virus spreads is leading to unnecessary fear.

“Care workers and intimate family members that are caring for somebody are the ones that are really at risk of getting Ebola. It’s not people out on the street. It’s not people that rode on the elevator with someone or on an airplane and that we shouldn’t panic. We should get educated,” said Dr. Haessler.

Influenza and Ebola may have similar symptoms, but the flu is much more contagious and much more prevalent in Massachusetts. We need to protect ourselves from the flu because it spreads through coughing and sneezing where Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

Dr. Haessler said health workers wear protection from the virus, but they could get infected if they touch soiled protective gear when taking it off. Otherwise, it’s really only spreading in three small countries in West Africa: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

“This is the better country to be in if you’ve got something like that. I think we have better doctors and hospitals,” said Rosemary Collier of West Springfield.

The virus can take 21 days to incubate, but a person is only contagious when showing symptoms. Dr. Haessler said while she doesn’t expect Ebola at Baystate Medical Center, hospitals are well prepared because they treat other infectious diseases, like measles and the flu, on a normal basis.

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