Local Hospital Says They're Prepared to Handle Ebola

Local Hospital Says They're Prepared to Handle Ebola

By Geena Martinez

NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Two American doctors, who were infected with the Ebola virus while treating patients in Africa, are back on American soil.

However, their arrival is prompting concerns about an Ebola outbreak in the United States.

Although the chances of an outbreak in the U.S. are very low, Medical Center Hospital said educating the public is key in awareness.

Its history started back in 1976 when a group of people in Africa came down with a fever but it developed into something much worse.

"They were clustered along the Ebola River in Africa and that's how the name Ebola virus came," Dr. Satish Mocherla, the Director of Infectious Diseases and Medicine at MCH, said.

Ebola is making international headlines after two American doctors contracted the virus while treating others for it in Liberia.

Those doctors are now being treated in Atlanta. In New York City, another man is in isolation after he came back from Africa with symptoms of the virus

"They have this rash that appears all over the body and then they have this bleeding tendency," Dr. Mocherla said. "The fatality rate ranges from 50-90%"

He said although an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. isn't likely, that doesn't mean it can't happen.

"We do have a fair number of people who go to Africa to hunt big game," Dr. Mocherla said. "It's very restricted at least as of now."

Ebola is spread through bodily secretions and since it's a virus, there is no cure.

Dr. Mocherla said MCH is ready if an infected patient were to walk through their doors. The hospital's response would be similar to their plan if there was a flu epidemic.

"We would try to segregate patients who had signs and symptoms, give them masks, give other patients mask to wear," he said. "We would screen you for Ebola but we would also screen you for other diseases that are far more common."

The hospital also monitors and stays up to date with world medical issues.

"We have meetings on a regular basis to deal with any emergent pathogen that is being reported," Dr. Mocherla said.

Despite the media coverage, doctors said there's no reason to be alarmed.