Ebola outbreak not major threat to US - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Ebola outbreak not major threat to US

A poster with information on Ebola in Guinea, Africa. (Source: MGN Online, CDC Global Health/Flickr) A poster with information on Ebola in Guinea, Africa. (Source: MGN Online, CDC Global Health/Flickr)
A microscopic view of the Ebola Virus. (Source: MGN Online) A microscopic view of the Ebola Virus. (Source: MGN Online)

The risk of Ebola spreading to this country is low. However, a federal agency is taking precautions and issuing an alert for US health care workers.

So far, the Ebola outbreak has been centered in Western Africa.

It's the deadliest outbreak in history with more than 670 deaths and 1200 suspected cases.

"It is moderately contagious. It's very infectious meaning you only need a teeny-weeny piece of the virus to get sick," said Dr. Leanne Chrisman-Khawam from the MetroHealth Medical Center. "But it's not airborne, so you don't get it like measles or flu. You have to be exposed to blood or tissues."

Two American health care workers in Africa have the virus.

The Center for Disease Control issued a warning for U.S. health care workers to be on the lookout for any patients who have recently traveled to West Africa. The people who are most likely to get infected are the people on the front lines.

"The emergency room doctors. The nurses. The primary care folks would probably be taking care of these people," said Dr. Chrisman-Khawam.

The Peace Corps is temporarily removing its volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

So how concerned should Americans be about Ebola spreading to the U.S.

"Currently Liberia has closed its borders, so probably not now," said Dr. Chrisman-Khawam.  "But this is really a grave concern. If this gets out, it certainly could become a big deal."

There is no treatment for Ebola. Medical experts say there are no known cases in the U.S.

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