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U-M Doctor: ‘Risk Of Ebola Outbreak In U.S. Is Very Low’

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A picture taken on July 24, 2014 shows staff of the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse putting on protective gear in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. An American doctor battling West Africa's Ebola epidemic has himself fallen sick with the disease in Liberia, Samaritan's Purse said on July 27. AFP PHOTO / ZOOM DOSSO        (Photo credit should read ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images)

A picture taken on July 24, 2014 shows staff of the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse putting on protective gear in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. An American doctor battling West Africa’s Ebola epidemic has himself fallen sick with the disease in Liberia, Samaritan’s Purse said on July 27. AFP PHOTO / ZOOM DOSSO (Photo credit should read ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR (WWJ) — With the number of Ebola cases rising rapidly in West Africa, there are growing concerns that the disease could reach the United States. Experts say the biggest risk is someone carrying the disease into a U.S. airport.

Dr. Eden Wells with the University of Michigan said that Detroit Metro Airport is equipped to handle sick passengers.

“We are fortunate that Detroit is actually one of 20 or more what we call ‘quarantine stations’ that the Center for Disease Control actually has staff at because it is such a major international destination,” Wells said. “While we can say that we feel that the risk is low for somebody to become ill on a flight — but it could happen — or they may not even realize they have the disease, come off a plane and get sick later.”

Wells said that information about Ebola is being distributed to doctors around the country, and around the world. She urged that an outbreak in the U.S. is not likely, but it is possible.

“There’s a possibility that the disease could arrive by a plane and the likelihood of it causing the type of outbreak that we’re witnessing over in West Africa is really very low,” Wells said.

Officials said that the jet carrying an American Ebola patient back to the U.S. is equipped with a special, portable tent designed for transporting patients with highly infectious diseases.

“There is a lot going on right now, both at the levels of our airports where travelers come in and at our local and state health departments,” Wells said.

The World Health Organization has convened an emergency committee next week to decide if the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern and to recommend measures to tackle it.

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