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NC Orgs See Effects Of Ebola Outbreak, Follow From Afar

A picture of colorized Ebola particles.
Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine

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.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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