Health expert: Don’t spread hysteria over Ebola

Posted at 8:50 PM, Oct 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-06 23:19:55-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Health officials in west Michigan are warning the public to not create hysteria with rumors of patients being quarantined for the Ebola virus.

With Americans on edge, experts said that people are more willing to believe rumors of the virus spreading.

Local health officials say they are confident with the systems in place to stop the spread of Ebola.

Kent County Health Department Epidemiologist Brian Hartl said that with social media, rumors of an Ebola spread can cause false hysteria.

"One person gets it and puts it on their Facebook page or tweets it or something like that, and a lot of people get information. So, like you said that information can spread like wildfire, but you know it's always very important to check with the CDC, check with the local health department," said Hartl.

Hartl said while health experts work with hospitals, it's actually hospital staff that is the first line of defense in identifying an infected patient.

"They are the front lines, so they have all the protocols in place to manage these patients. We just assist them through the process of testing. If a case ever shows up in our local community, we in turn follow contacts like they are doing in Dallas," said Hartl.

Hartl also added that Ebola doesn't spread as easy as people may think.  It's not like the flu or measles. Hartl adds that the Ebola virus must come into contact with someone's blood or bodily fluids.

"So this is not easily spread from person to person. I think that's one thing that people need to keep in mind. It's not easily transmitted," said Hartl.

Hartl said more patients affected with Ebola in the United States are expected, but he adds that there still isn't a cause for alarm.  He said that medical care in the United States is drastically more efficient than in the hardest hit areas of West Africa.

"Some don't even have running water to wash their hands properly, so that's why in Africa the situation is so much worse," said Hartl.

The Kalamazoo County Health Department also said that they are confident with their systems in place to combat a possible infection,  and assures the public they are doing everything they can to prevent it from spreading here in west Michigan.