Doctor: general public not at risk for Ebola

In this 2014 photo provided by the Samaritan's Purse aid organization, Dr. Kent Brantly, left, treats an Ebola patient at the Samaritan's Purse Ebola Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. On Saturday, July 26, 2014, the North Carolina-based aid organization said Brantly tested positive for the disease and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia. (AP Photo/Samaritan's Purse)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Health experts say they do not expect to see Ebola transmission in the general public.

The patient being treated in Dallas had traveled to Liberia recently. He is in isolation. Doctors are working to track down anyone with whom he came in contact. The ambulance crew that did treat him so far tested negative.

Thousands dead, thousands more infected in West Africa since the Ebola outbreak. The lone case in the U.S. has concerned patients calling Dr. Jack Ross, Director of Infectious Diseases at Hartford Hospital.

“This is not unexpected at all. We have a large number of cases in West Africa. In our life today, we are 36 hours away from any place on this planet,” said Ross.

With air travel as the main vector for Ebola to the U.S., hospitals in Connecticut, Dr. Ross says, stand ready for the possibility of an ‘imported’ Ebola case.

“Hospitals in Connecticut would isolate in place and treat in place,” said Ross.

But first, questions from front line medical workers, such as any recent travel to the affected region?

“If the answer is yes to that, the next step is you isolate and ask further questions. You would then ask have you had direct contact with someone known or suspected to have Ebola, did you attend funeral rites, did you serve as a healthcare worker in these areas?” said Ross.

The general public Dr. Ross says is not at risk for contracting Ebola.

“Prior to the time someone is actually symptomatic, they are not infectious so you could sit next to someone on a plane with no symptoms. It could be incubating for 2 to 21 days but you would not be at risk,” said Ross.

Dr. Ross points out that people are more at risk for catching the flu than contracting Ebola. In the Texas case, it wasn’t until the patient returned the second time did the hospital learn of a West African connection.

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