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North Carolina Uniquely Positioned In Ebola Fight

Ebola Sign
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina boasts many resources when it comes to combating the Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa. Two pharmaceutical companies are developing potential vaccines. Duke University Hospital has proven its ability to treat potential Ebola patients, while UNC has students helping to track the spread of the disease in Liberia. Soldiers from Fort Bragg have been enlisted in the ground effort.

All these resources are part of not only fighting the virus overseas, but protecting North Carolinians.

"Protecting them by going to the source of the outbreak and being able to treat and contain and make sure the people in West Africa are receiving the care they need," said Claire Neal, Executive Director of the Triangle Global Health Consortium.

Neal was part of a committee that organized speakers Monday to discuss North Carolina's role in managing the outbreak, at both a local and national level.

Public health officials, academics, and representatives from the private sector were on hand to outline what's being done, and to facility working across disciplines - something not entirely new to this community.

"Most of the member organizations have a long history of doing work together, especially when related to infectious diseases, such as HIV, Malaria, and TB," said Dr. Peggy Bentley of UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health.

"All of the organizations that are working to address the Ebola crisis are having to find new ways to work together more efficiently," said Ken Tindall of the NC Biotechnology Center, which hosted the conference.

The group said they've seen improvements with this outbreak's response, particularly in cooperation with the federal government.

They also heard from Dr. William Fisher, a UNC doctor who had returned from caring for Ebola patients in Guinea in June. He has since returned to the region - now serving in Liberia.

When Fisher returned from Guinea in June, he told this story to WUNC's Phoebe Judge:

Eric Mennel prepares the afternoon/evening "drive time" newscast on WUNC. Previously, he was a producer for The Story with Dick Gordon. Eric has reported for All Things Considered, This American Life, 99% Invisible and other radio programs. He covered protests and security measures at the 2012 Republican National Convention for WUSF Tampa and NPR News. One day, he hopes to own a home with a wrap-around porch.
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