Ebola: How it’s spread; Are we prepared?

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A doctor from New York City has been diagnosed with Ebola after working in Guinea with the humanitarian group, Doctor’s Without Borders. In Guinea, the doctor was treating Ebola patients.

The Doctor’s case is the first case to show up here in the Northeast region of the country, and the fourth in the U.S. Health officials are urging residents in New York City that the chances of the average New Yorker catching Ebola are very slim because of how it is spread.

Since the Ebola virus first showed up on American soil, 22News has been speaking with local doctors and hospitals about the disease and how it’s spread.

Here’s what we know:

  • The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids, like saliva, blood, or sweat, of someone who has the disease. Those fluids need to have touched your eye, nose, mouth or open cut in order for you to catch it.
  • That’s much different than other viruses like the flu or chicken pox with can be caught if someone coughs or sneezes near you.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the person carrying the disease is only contagious if they are showing symptoms such as a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or severe headache.

Some cities and states have designated a specific hospital to handle Ebola patients. In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health says that all hospitals are ready handle potential Ebola cases.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association says a big part of preparedness is in triaging the patients with potential Ebola symptoms.

In recent weeks, 22News has spoken to several western Massachusetts hospitals and urgent care facility doctors about their triaging methods. They told 22News that they are asking patients with Ebola-like symptoms whether they have recently traveled to West Africa, and that they have isolation protocols and protective gear in place.

The Ebola virus is widespread in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. More than 4,800 people in that region have died from the disease.

To date, one patient has died from Ebola in the United States.

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