Q&a With Dr. Kristie Rivers: What Parents Should Know About Ebola
1. What is Ebola?
Answer : Ebola is a viral infection like the flu, but it’s very rare. There are five strains of Ebola causing the current epidemic in Africa. In terms of symptoms, Ebola has a high fever, muscle aches, unexplained bruising or bleeding, vomiting, and diarrhea.
2. How is it spread?
Answer : You have to be in direct contact with bodily fluids, including blood, vomit, saliva or feces. So if you’re sitting next to someone with Ebola and they sneeze on you, you’re not really in danger of getting it. You have to be in direct, close contact with bodily fluids.
3. So far, it’s been an international news story, but they have diagnosed one case in Texas and at least one other case is suspected there. How prepared are we to deal with an Ebola outbreak in this country?
Answer : From a hospital perspective, a disease like this requires strict isolation and close monitoring of people who might have come into contact with it. But I think the United States is prepared to deal with it. Even with isolated cases here in the United States, it won’t look anything like it looks in West Africa. We’re very capable of handling isolated, sporadic cases.
4. Should parents worry or do anything in particular to protect their families against Ebola? Is there a vaccine against it, like the flu vaccine?
Answer : No, there’s no vaccine against Ebola. We’ve never needed one. I don’t think parents should be concerned unless their child gets sick and has been in direct contact with someone who was recently in Africa.
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