Local Epidemiologist Speaks To Danger Of Ebola Threat In U.S.

DETROIT (WWJ) – President Obama is stepping up efforts to stop Ebola from spreading in and beyond West Africa. He announced Tuesday that he’s sending 3,000 troops and medical and logistical support to Africa.

Locally, WWJ’s Marie Osborne talked with an Ebola expert about the potential for danger here at home.

“Ebola, frankly does not, and happily, does not travel all that easily or that quickly,” said Dr. Howard Markel.

Markel, a University of Michigan epidemiologist, has consulted with the Center for Disease Control on the Ebola epidemic.

“It is a humanitarian gesture,” said Markel of Obama’s plan. “I applaud the president for doing it – do I wish as a physician and an epidemiologist it was done earlier, yes, of course.”

Does Markel expect the virus to spread to the U.S.?

He says precautions are being taken.

“Our Center’s for Disease Control has been working with all the major airlines and … their staff to recognize any passenger who comes in with incredible coughing or vomiting or bleeding or things like that.”

Markel states that within a week or two we should see the results of this effort in the preventive arena.

“I think they need to do this before a crisis happens – not during or after,” said Markel. “Because, hopefully we could have prevented a lot of these cases if we started this type of work back in August.”

“To me they are quite heroic, quite wonderful people,” he said of the physicians and volunteers working at the epicenter of the outbreak.

In early September, a spokesman for Windsor Regional Hospital confirmed that they received an individual in their emergency room on Monday with “Ebola-type symptoms.”

Hospital staff in contact with the patient are equipped with latex suits and face masks, said the hospital’s Vice President of Public Affairs Ron Foster.

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.

Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor, Ontario, is located about 1 mile south of Detroit.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has information on the symptoms of Ebola as well as transmission and prevention of the disease at this link.

MORE: The Ebola Outbreak: What Every American Needs To Know

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