DENVER (CBS4) – Health officials on Tuesday confirmed the first diagnosed case of the Ebola virus in the U.S., and Colorado hospitals say they’re ready if get a case comes to the state.
Fort Carson is on alert for the fight against Ebola. The base announced on Tuesday it might deploy soldiers to West Africa to help. President Obama announced two weeks ago as many as 3,000 troops could be deployed to assist at treatment centers.
Health officials are tracking down family, friends and others who may have come in contact with a critically ill patient in Dallas, Texas. It’s a development many feared would happen as people continue to travel between the U.S. and Africa.
Every hospital in the country should be ready for Ebola, which can be stopped with basic forms of sanitation. Doctors in America have been preparing for a case since the outbreak began, calling it simply a matter of time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk of Ebola spreading in the U.S. is low, but more cases could appear.
“I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks in the U.S., but I also have no doubt that as long as the outbreak continues in Africa, we’ll need to be on our guard,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said.
The infected patient flew out of Liberia on Sept. 19 and passed health screenings because he wasn’t symptomatic at the time. In fact, the patient was released from a U.S. hospital on the Sept. 25 and showed no signs of the virus. He was readmitted on Sept. 28.
“Ebola is a virus. It’s a virus that is easy to kill by washing your hands. It’s easy to stop by using gloves and burial precautions. The issue is not that Ebola is highly infectious, the issue with Ebola is that the stakes are so high,” Frieden said.
“We basically need the capabilities that most hospitals in the U.S. have,” said Dr. Connie Price, Division Chief of Infectious Diseases at Denver Health Medical Center.
Denver Health has at least two dozen rooms doctors say can handle any outbreak of Ebola or any other infectious disease.
“It’s located in a part of our hospital that’s a little more removed from usual traffic flows,” Price said.
The rooms are built to be disinfected easily, and to limit exposure to bodily fluids.
Rooms are also larger to allow medical staff to wear protective gear and have the option for negative airflow, which pulls air out of the room and into vents in the ceiling.
More than 3,000 people have died from the virus in Africa. Ebola has a 60 percent mortality rate. Two Americans infected earlier this summer survived using an experimental drug. It’s not an option in the Dallas case, but doctors say the patient is at least better off being treated in the U.S.
“When you have effective medical care and good medical supportive care, you may be able to do a little bit better than some of the numbers we’re hearing out of Africa,” Price said.
The hospital in Dallas is considering an experimental therapy on the patient. Some doctors believe the case will create a rush to find a vaccine for Ebola.
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