President Of OK Medical Research Foundation Answers Ebola Questions

Tuesday, October 21st 2014, 6:58 pm
By: News 9

Oklahomans asked questions about Ebola to better understand the deadly disease.

News 9 took those questions straight to the President of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Dr. Stephen Prescott.

One viewer asked, "Can Ebola mutate like the flu does and become airborne?"

“It's not spread by airborne contact, [but there is] a lot of concern, ‘Could it become that way?'” said Dr. Prescott. “Well, of course things could change, but it's unlikely to,” he answered.

10/10/2014 Related Story: Oklahoma Health Department Holds Ebola Discussion

Another person wanted to know, "What's the most common way it's passed on to others?"

Dr. Prescott said Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids like vomit, diarrhea and blood from an infected patient.

Another viewer followed up with, "You're only contagious if you're exhibiting symptoms, correct?"

Dr. Prescott said that is true, Ebola patients are only contagious when they are having symptoms.

“When these patients are sick, they'll be vomiting a lot, they'll have severe diarrhea, they may start bleeding a lot towards the end of the their lives,” Dr. Prescott explained. “Those are the times they are most dangerous, most infectious,” he added.

Other viewers had concerns about the 21-day incubation period and whether that is enough time.

“I think saying up to 21 days, that is being conservative, give it plenty of time,” Dr. Prescott told News 9. “So if we are going to quarantine someone, make sure we quarantine them long enough. It probably is a shorter period,” he said.

Another News 9 viewer asked, "Why is the vaccine so hard to make?"

Dr. Prescott said vaccines for any viral illness are simply difficult to make and require a lot of testing.

He said he thinks we will have an Ebola vaccine one day.

Several viewers asked whether it is it safe to travel right now.

Dr. Prescott said yes, it is safe to travel and fly.

However, experts do not recommend flying to the outbreak zones in West Africa.

Another viewer asked, "If you come down with Ebola and survive can it come back?"

Dr. Prescott explained that people who survive Ebola have very dramatic protection from the disease and should be protected from getting it again.

10/15/2014 Related Story: Oklahoma Hospitals Continue To Train For Ebola Cases