U.S. hospitals on alert for patients returning from Africa
Health care workers in the United States are on alert as news spreads about the Ebola outbreak in Africa.
Doctors are looking for anyone feeling ill who recently traveled to that region of the world.
The heightened alert forced doctors in North Carolina to close a hospital emergency room Wednesday. The ER at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte was closed briefly after an ill patient arrived who had traveled to a part of Africa known to be battling the infectious disease.
Doctors determined that patient did not have Ebola, but it shows the level of alert from health care workers across the country.
"People should realize that the risk of having an outbreak of Ebola in the United States is exceedingly unlikely and rare, in part because of the infrastructure that we have for good infection control," said Dr. Martin Cetron with the Centers for Disease Control.
Ebola is a virus that kills anywhere from 60-90 percent of its victims. It's spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, even if that person has died.
Doctors and nurses are trained to know the symptoms - fever, headache, diarrhea and vomiting. So do the volunteers who are coming back to the U.S. after serving in Africa.
"They know to be told that if they come in to a clinic after they get back here, they immediately will say, 'I have been in Western Africa.' And if there is even a suspicion, there are protocols of immediately quarantining those people and making a diagnostic to make sure they do not have Ebola," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Kent Brantly, a Texas doctor originally from Indiana, is in a Liberia hospital fighting for his life against Ebola. Brantly seems to be improving after doctors said Tuesday his condition was "grave."
Another American who was working with him in Liberia is also doing better.