Experts in US calm fears over ebola

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Experts have moved to calm fears of a US outbreak of the deadly ebola virus as the first victim brought from Africa is treated at a special isolation unit at one of the nation’s best hospitals.

Fears that the outbreak killing more than 700 people in Africa could spread in the US has generated public anxiety.

But infectious disease experts say there is zero risk as Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, treats critically ill missionary Dr Kent Brantly and
a charity worker infected in Liberia.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has received “nasty emails” and at least 100 calls from people saying, “How dare you bring ebola into the country!?” CDC director Dr Tom Frieden said.

“I hope that our understandable fear of the unfamiliar does not trump our compassion when ill Americans return to the US for care,” he said.

Dr Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who will arrive in several days, will be treated in Emory’s isolation unit for infectious diseases, created 12 years ago to handle doctors who fall ill at the CDC nearby.

It is one of about four such units in the country, equipped with everything necessary to test and treat people exposed to very dangerous viruses.

In 2005, it handled patients with Sars – severe acute respiratory syndrome – which, unlike ebola, can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

In fact, the nature of ebola, spread by close contact with bodily fluids and blood, means
any modern hospital using standard, rigorous, infection-control measures should be able to handle it.