The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of the Ebola virus in the United States Tuesday in Texas, but health officials said the virus is unlikely to make it to Columbus
The chances of the Ebola virus spreading to Ohio are low, said Dr. Christina Liscynesky, an assistant professor in the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center Department of Internal Medicine’s division of infectious diseases.
“Very, very low. The way to mitigate the Ebola spread is to put the patient in isolation and those they have been in contact with in isolation. So the CDC is sending a team to Texas to do those things. We have very many resources in the United States to handle these things,” Liscynesky said.
The man, Thomas E. Duncan, had come to the U.S. from Liberia on Sept. 20. He is in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
The EMS crew that transported Duncan to the hospital has also been isolated, according to the Dallas mayor’s office.
According the CDC website, Ebola can only be spread from contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person or animal who is infected with or has died from Ebola.
As of Sept. 23, there were 6,574 total confirmed cases of Ebola. The total death count was 3,091, according to the CDC website.
If the virus were to spread to Columbus, the university stands ready, an OSU spokeswoman said.
“We have participated in multiple conference calls and meetings with leaders at other hospitals in the Central Ohio region about preparedness efforts,” OSU spokeswoman Liz Cook said in an email.
Cook said OSU has developed tools to familiarize its staff with Ebola and with a screening tool to determine whether Medical Center patients have the virus based on their travel and exposure history and their current symptoms. Part of the protocol, she said, is working with partners from the Wexner Medical Center, College of Public Health, Student Health Services and university leadership to develop solutions.
Some students said they’re not concerned about the virus spreading to Columbus.
Jeff Robbins, a third-year in forest, fisheries and wildlife, did not believe the virus would make it to the U.S. when interviewed by The Lantern in August. On Tuesday, he said he is more fearful, but still does not believe the virus will make its way to Ohio.
Kelsey Houser, a third-year in business whom The Lantern also interviewed in August, agreed that she’s not afraid Ebola will make its way to Ohio.
“It is a far move from Dallas, and I think we have pretty good control of our health care system,” Houser said.
Even so, Cook said OSU experts are remaining alert.
“Our goal is to remain at a high level of preparedness to reduce the risk of exposure as well as rapidly implement protocols for providing care in our medical facilities or respond to public health concerns across campus,” she said.