NC Orgs See Effects Of Ebola Outbreak, Follow From Afar

Jul 29, 2014

The Ebola virus has infected two aid workers in Western Africa doing relief work with two NC-based organizations. State health officials say they're prepared to handle an Ebola infection, should it occur here.
Credit Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine / Wikipedia

North Carolina health officials are following the spread of the Ebola virus in Western Africa. It was announced this week that two aid workers from North Carolina-based relief organizations have tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Kent Brantley of Samaritan's Purse and Nancy Writebol of Service in Mission were both working to combat the outbreak at a hospital in Liberia when they were infected.

North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services says no cases of the Ebola virus have been reported in the state.  But many people from universities in North Carolina travel to regions where dangerous diseases are rampant.

State Epidemiologist Zach Moore said Americans returning from the outbreak region are unlikely to bring the virus with them. He added that hospitals across the North Carolina have emergency plans in place.

Doctor David Weber is an infectious disease expert at UNC Hospitals. He said UNC has facilities meant for effectively quarantining patients with any highly communicable diseases, including Ebola.

“The disease is a bit scary because it's transmittable from person to person, highly fatal, and no prevention or cure,” Weber said. “But it's also well-known. It isn't like we don't know about this disease and haven't known about it for years and years. We know how diseases are transmitted.”

Weber says the hospital has rooms with limited access and protective gear for staff. They can also safely dispose of patients' waste and remains.