WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Although tests showed that a Mount Sinai Hospital patient did not have the Ebola virus, a Westchester County expert warned that the public should still educate themselves about the symptoms and facts of the disease.
Earlier this week, New York was put on notice after a man who was recently in West Africa showed several symptoms of having Ebola, including a high fever and gastrointestinal problems. Currently two Americans, who contracted the disease working as aid workers in Africa, are being treated at a hospital in Atlanta.
Rossi A. Hassad, a Mercy College associate professor, who is a member of the American College of Epidemiology, said that despite the seriousness of the virus, the case in New York was closely monitored.
“We know how to control this, and we have excellent surveillance in New York City, and people with excellent expertise and healthcare resources,” he said. “We should of course be concerned, but it’s under control. Hopefully this concern leads us to educate ourselves and to be prepared.”
The Ebola virus has become an international concern following an outbreak in West Africa, namely in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 2,000 people have been infected, with nearly half of them dying.
Hassad said that when treating someone who could potentially be suffering from the disease, isolation is the key to ensuring that it doesn’t spread further.
“When you have a suspected case, you have to physically remove them from the rest of the population, and anyone that comes into contact with them must be in full protective gear,” he said. “It’s an infectious disease that is spread or communicated by way of germs. It is contagious by means of direct contact. It needs a viable port of entry, it’s not like coughing or sneezing will propel the virus into the air.”
While the case at Mount Sinai Hospital was determined not to be Ebola after several days of monitoring, Hassad noted that it’s still important for the public to be aware of the virus, and to know what they’re dealing with. He added that the cases in America are utilizing experimental treatment that has yielded positive results thus far in subduing symptoms.
“We don’t know much about this virus. It has defied the basic principles in terms of the way it spreads,” he said. “There is a need for public education and awareness, and our concern for the disease should not lead us to shut down and do nothing, but we should be prepared.”