WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Health officials around the world fear a global outbreak of Ebola, as the virus continues to spread in West Africa and with people traveling in and out of those countries. But, an infectious disease specialist with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said doctors in the U.S. would be able to contain the disease, if it ever made its way to America.
Dr. Christopher Ohl said America is much more well-equipped to handle Ebola cases than the African nations facing the outbreak. That's partly because of how easy it is to get protective gear like gloves and face masks. Those items aren't as accessible in African villages where Ebola is spreading.
"The way you prevent from getting a virus from blood or body fluids would be with gowns, gloves and face masks and these aren't as readily available in Africa and it's a lot harder for them to provide that level of protection for people," Ohl said.
Another big difference is the culture. In the U.S. when you get sick with a bad fever, you can go to the doctor. In some African countries, your family takes care of you, which can lead to Ebola spreading among family members.
"And that's because in Africa a lot of times it's the family that provides direct medical care for their infected loved ones. So, rather than take them to a hospital or clinic, they'll just care for them at home. Maybe because of resources," Ohl said.
Fluids considered infectious like blood, vomit, diarrhea and a fair amount of sweat has to get into your mouth or a break in your skin.
"It turns out that droplet transmission such as sneezing or coughing, really isn't a way of transmitting this. It has to really be direct contact with direct body fluids," Ohl said.
He said Wake Forest Baptist medical center has specific isolation guidelines and protocols on how to deal with patients who might have Ebola. He said the death rate would not be nearly as high as it is in Africa, because we have ICU care and other ways to support people until the viral infection runs its course.
The CDC issued an "Alert Level 2" advisory out of three levels, which means to "practice enhanced precautions" when traveling to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The FAA is not currently planning on issuing any travel restrictions to the area or warnings, according to Congressman Howard Coble's office.
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