National Ebola Expert Says Little to Fear From Ebola-Infected Nurse's Visit to Ohio

It was a packed room at Case Western’s Wolstein Research Building—physicians in scrubs, students, reporters, professors and other academics all crowded in to hear Dr. Daniel Bausch talk about his experience on the frontlines of dealing with the Ebola virus. He’s on the faculty at Tulane University and consults with WHO, the CDC, and others, and he’s spent a lot of time in West Africa dealing with the Ebola crisis.

There’s desperate need to ramp up efforts on all fronts in West Africa, he said, and in regards to the Ebola cases in the United States, he told the audience we need to find the sweet spot between preparation and panic. "I think we need to come back to the science. This is a virus, it’s a dangerous virus, but we know a lot about the science of this virus. We know that this is spread from people who are sick with Ebola virus disease. It’s not spread from a person who is asymptomatic. It’s not even spread readily from a person who is in the very early phases of disease," he said.

As for the nurse, Amber Vinson, who traveled to the Akron area and spent time here, he said there was little chance of her infecting anyone while she was here. "This person was in the very very early phases of this disease, had a very low level of virus in her blood, was probably shedding very very little virus into the environment and of course didn’t complain of any nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anything else, so this was not a very infectious patient," he said.

At the same time as he delivered this lecture though the CDC announced that Vinson may have had some Ebola symptoms during her visit in Ohio, and that they are now contacting people on the initial flight she took on Oct 10th from Dallas to Cleveland.

This underscores the challenge public health officials like Bausch face as they make the rounds across the country to calm fears and provide rational, evidence-based messages about the Ebola crisis.

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