OK Medical Experts: Public Should Not Worry About Ebola

Thursday, October 16th 2014, 6:38 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin called on President Obama to release a comprehensive plan for fighting Ebola on Thursday.

At the same time, the President authorized the use of National Guard reserves in Dallas if needed.

Meanwhile, the medical community is trying to calm the hysteria over Ebola.

Up to 25,000 people die a year in this country from the flu, but there seems to be more panic over Ebola.

“You're much more likely to die from influenza than Ebola,” Dr. Stephen Prescott, president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, said.

Ebola is a scary disease, but Dr. Prescott said the general public should not be scared that they are going to get it.

“Really people shouldn't be as concerned about this as a lot of people are right now,” Dr. Prescott added.

Dr. Prescott said the ways to control an epidemic are isolation of the patient and quarantine of anyone exposed.

Learn more from the Oklahoma State Department of Health

He said our system did not work the way it should at a Dallas hospital where Ebola patient Thomas Duncan died.

“We made mistakes in the United States on both of those fronts with the recent cases that came here from West Africa,” said Dr. Prescott. “The nurses should have been quarantined.”

Ebola is not airborne. It is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids like vomit, diarrhea and blood.

“Who gets it - the nurses who provided this intimate care in an intensive care setting,” answered Dr. Prescott. “They get exposed, they get potentially exposed.”

There is a family of viruses that causes Ebola, and while they mutate all the time, Dr. Prescott said it is unlikely to become airborne.

Ebola can live outside the body for many hours, so that makes it more dangerous with respect to contaminated clothing, bed sheets and medical materials used on severely sick patients.

10/16/14 Related Story: EBOLA: The Facts And How To Protect Yourself

Dr. Prescott's message to Oklahomans?

“You're safe here," he said. "There is no reason to think you are going to get Ebola, to worry about it.”

Right now, there is not an effective treatment for Ebola.

A lot of things are being tried, like transfusions from survivors to new patients and experimental drugs under development.