Ebola Outbreak Risks

By Linda Ong | long@kolr10.com

Published 08/01 2014 10:13PM

Updated 08/02 2014 04:48PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Two Americans will be brought back to the United States after getting infected with ebola while helping with the recent outbreak in West Africa.

As health officials prepare for the transport, there's been growing concern over public health risks.

"This is probably the most significant of the Ebola epidemics because most of the epidemics have been relatively short-lived and have been contained," said Alastair Haddow, an infectious disease physician at Mercy Hospital.

Dr. Haddow said the recent Ebola outbreaks in West Africa has his team concerned.

"Potentially 80-90 percent of people becoming infected with the different strains of Ebola have died from their infection," said Dr. Haddow.

Ebola is transmitted through contact of body secretions of one who is infected. Those with the virus experience flu-like symptoms like headaches and chest pain.

"The first thing is obvious-- to avoid direct contact with those individuals because that's where transmission seems to occur is in clusters of people who are close at hand, have direct physical contact with other people," said Dr. Haddow.

The Assemblies of God will be holding a centennial event next week, which will bring around 1832 international delegates-- four of which will come from the countries affected by the outbreak.

"They're all leaders of Assemblies of God in those countries," said George Wood, General Superintendent of Assemblies of God. "They have been screened in their country of origin. So we're really not concerned about any transmission of Ebola in regards to our centennial observation here in Springfield."

Dr. Haddow said there is no risk locally, but to be aware.

"We have people visiting African countries and West Africa from all the time," said Dr. Haddow. "So any unexplained illness should be a cause for calling a physician, especially if it's a severe illness."

There is currently no vaccine or cure for the virus-- but Dr. Haddow said there is a lot of pressure to create one and there's a suggestion that there may be a vaccine out there.

Mercy will be inspecting all patients this weekend who come to urgent care for Ebola.

Dr. Haddow recommends that people take preventative measures like maintaining good hygiene and washing your hands.

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