Concerned about Ebola? Local, state health departments well prepared

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rising fear of a global Ebola epidemic, comes assurances from a local expert, the situation is under control here at home.

"Suspected" cases of Ebola have emerged daily in the U.S.

Dr. Marcus Plescia, Director of the Mecklenburg County Health Department says that's no reason to be alarmed.

"I think it is a sign that people are very concerned," he said.

The Center for Disease Control received two dozen "suspected" cases nation-wide.

Only a handful met the agency's threshold for Ebola testing.

Charlotte's Carolina Medical Center, had a "false-alarm," last week, when the patient ended up being diagnosed with malaria.

So far, there has been no confirmed cases in the U.S.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we do not have any cases in the U.S. I think that is highly possible, but you know if we do, we will be able to handle it.

The incubation period, which is the time of infection, to the first sign of symptoms appearing can last as long as 21 days. The virus is generally detected within 72 hours of symptoms showing. The outcome of such tests depend on when the patient is tested.

The CDC requested the public health community and airport personnel to be "hyper-vigilant," looking for symptomatic patients and travelers.

Plescia says the Ebola virus, unlike SARS, or the flu, is not as easily transmittable.

"What is very important about Ebola, is people are not infectious until they have symptoms," he said.

MORE: An Ebola outbreak: Could it happen here?

"Although it is frightening, because it has a high mortality rate, it is not passed through respiratory passage. It's not like the flu. The flu is fairly easy to get or catch from other people because you can get it from respiratory exposure. With Ebola, it is contact with bodily fluids, vomit, urine, sweat."

Plescia says, had the Ebola virus spread similarly to the way a flu virus spread, it would be cause for "great concern," warranting more urgency on a wider scale.

"But people need to be aware that these are things that work in our favor, and this is why we're able to say with confidence we feel that this Ebola virus and the people coming back, if somebody were to come back, it can be controlled."

Plescia says the county has conducted numerous emergency drills to handle such a situation.

"We also have good information available. We are always kept up to speed on what is going on in other parts of the world. We are on top of this and we are not being complacent about this," he said.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment