Preparing for Ebola key to controlling outbreak

Dr. Marcos Espinal | Pan American Health Organization

Preparing for an Ebola outbreak is key to keeping the virus from spreading, according to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization.

Dr. Marcos Espinal said the goal for countries in Latin American and the Caribbean should be to prevent local transmission of the Ebola virus.

Unlike countries in Africa, however, the Americas have stronger health systems, Espinal said. Many people in Africa must walk miles for health posts, but countries in the Americans have the physical infrastructure that can respond to Ebola cases.

Ebola is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of those who are already infected with the virus. Therefore those at the highest risk of contracting the disease are health care workers, he said.

Espinal said not all hospitals and medical personnel need to be trained to handle an Ebola case, but communication is key to stopping a spread of the disease.

Health care providers should ask patients suspected of having Ebola who they have been in contact with, and where they've traveled. Likewise, the public needs to be informed of any potential cases of Ebola, Espinal said.

It is important for the public and health care professionals to stay calm during suspected incidents of Ebola and use prevention and infection control measures, Espinal said.

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