Officials in the Iowa Department of Public Health say it’s “understandable” that Iowans may find the recent news about an Ebola patient in Texas “scary,” but Dr. Ann Garvey, the assistant medical director for the agency, says the U.S. has health care systems in place to handle such cases.
“Ebola is only spread if an infected person is actively having symptoms and it’s spread through direct contact with bodily fluids,” Garvey says. “Ebola is not spread through the air.”
Garvey says public health officials are ready to respond if an Ebola case is identified in Iowa.
“Hospitals have been preparing for diseases like Ebola for a very long time. They have procedures in place,” Garvey says. “There is a significant amount of guidance that the CDC has put out recently related to Ebola specifically and that addresses all the procedures and steps that health care providers should keep in mind, many of which they’re already doing on a daily basis for other diseases that are infectious in nature.”
The president of Sierra Leone and the ministers of agriculture in Liberia and Sierra Leone are due to visit Des Moines in mid-October for World Food Prize festivities. Dr. Garvey says there’s “no reason” for concern.
“Again, to get Ebola you have to have direct contact with bodily fluids from someone who is ill and actively having systems. Again, it’s not an airborne disease,” Garvey says. “And the recommendations for individuals coming from parts of the world where there is ongoing Ebola activity are really based upon the exposures that they’ve had, but people who have not had contact with anyone who is ill from Ebola, the recommendation is to just take their temperature daily.”
Dr. Garvey says it would be “extremely unlikely” one of those visitors would come down with symptoms, but if they get a fever, there is “appropriate care” available here. One of four medical missionaries from the U.S. who got Ebola in Africa was treated at an Omaha hospital. Dr. Richard Sacra was released last week and he’s not ruling out a return to Liberia.