Could Ebola Virus be a risk here in the U.S.? What are the risks - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Could Ebola Virus be a risk here in the U.S.? What are the risks?

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -  The first of the infected medical missionaries will be flown into Atlanta to begin treatment Saturday, but bringing someone with the Ebola virus into the States has created an internet storm of concerns - could the virus be spread in the U.S.? And how is it spread? A UAB physician has been studying the virus and answers our questions.

It's one of the most dangerous viruses - with no cure.  


"Their best chance is going to be here but unfortunately with an 80-90% mortality rate with Ebola virus infection, I'm not sure there is cause to be all that hopeful," Dr. David Pigott, UAB Emergency Physician and Professor said.


Ebola starts out like the flu then causes blood loss and fluid loss - ultimately leading to organ failure.  

 

"It's bodily fluids, contact with infected persons, things like coughing or sneezing can produce what we call 'droplet spread,'" Dr. Pigott said.


The medical missionaries being brought to the U.S. were helping treat Ebola infected patients in West Africa. Many here have been worried they're arrival could lead to an outbreak.


"We do not believe that any healthcare worker, any other patient, or any visitor is in any way at risk," Dr. Bruce Ribner, Professor at Emory School of Medicine's Infectious Diseases Division said.


Dr David Pigott says the concern shouldn't be about bringing these two patients here - the Atlanta hospital is equipped to handle the quarantine. The biggest problem is international travel.  


"The concern would be someone getting on an airplane in Monrovia - the capital of Liberia, flying to Paris, flying from Paris to New York and showing up at a local emergency department," Pigott said.


He said because the virus doesn't produce symptoms for a few days, most people infected dont' initially realize they're sick.


"It takes a significant amount of resources to put together a procedure like that," Dr. Pigott said. "We do have those resources at UAB if we were to encounter someone with suspected Ebola virus."


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