Ebola Forum works to spread facts, not 'hysteria' - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Ebola Forum works to spread facts, not 'hysteria'

Panel of experts answer questions. (Source: WECT) Panel of experts answer questions. (Source: WECT)

Health leaders from New Hanover County Schools, the New Hanover County Health Department, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, and the University of North Carolina Wilmington came together Thursday to discuss what procedures they have in place when it comes to Ebola and to answer questions about the deadly disease.

Leaders on the panel said that people in our area have a low chance of catching the disease. In fact, they said it is far more likely for someone to get the flu than Ebola.

"The likelihood of getting Ebola is very small," said Katrin Wesner, the Director of the UNCW Health Center. "You have to have direct contact with body fluids and unlike other illnesses it is not an airborne disease. It is very uncommon that the average person living in Wilmington is going to be exposed to someone who has had Ebola and be in contact with those body fluids." 

Wesner also pointed out that every year 20,000 to 30,000 people die from the flu in America, however, only 1 person has died in America from Ebola.

One person in the forum's audience asked if it is safe to fly and what travelers need to know.

Dr. Richard Trotta from the VA Medical Center said that everyone who flies in from impacted countries in West Africa is monitored as soon as they get on a plane. Additionally, he said there are only a limited number of airports they can fly into.

Trotta said that it is very unlikely to be flying with someone who has Ebola, adding it is a "weak" disease and using alcohol wipes can stop it from spreading.

He said that while Wilmington residents have a very low possibility of getting the disease the Port City is at a slightly hirer risk than other cities in the state due to the ports.

Officials at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center said they do have an Ebola protocol in place.

Patients that check in will be asked a series of questions, if officials feel there is a risk they have Ebola the patient will be placed in isolation. An evaluation team will then be brought in. A trained Ebola Care Team will be on standby to care for the patient if they test positive for Ebola.

UNCW leaders also say they are prepared. 

"We've met with EMS, we've met with the hospital, we've met with the Health Department, and we on campus have sort of beefed up our preparedness. We've had training on personal protective equipment. We're going to have an exercise next week, so it's a really good opportunity to dust off that plan and sort of revisit what you would do in case there was an emergency."

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