Ebola outbreak catches the attention of hospitals in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s the deadliest outbreak of its kind in history.

Authorities say the Ebola virus has infected about 1,700 people across the globe, killing over 900 patients in West Africa.

With the spread of the virus hitting several African countries, many people began wondering if the deadly virus could come to the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning for travelers to avoid the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history. Far too many lives have been lost already,” said Tom Frieden, M.D., the director of the CDC. “It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done.”

As CDC investigators work in West Africa, several hospitals and medical centers across the United States are taking their own precautions, including some facilities in Oklahoma.

CDC officials say Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear and can only be transmitted through direct contact of bodily fluids.

Infectious Disease Specialist John Harkness said, “The way this virus is transmitted is not a mystery.  We know what to do and I think all of the hospitals in Oklahoma City have the capacity to sufficiently isolate someone with Ebola, if they showed up here.”

Medical professionals already take strict precautions when it comes to a patient’s bodily fluids but say a different set of precautions will go into effect, if needed, before a paramedic ever arrives on the scene.

When you call EMSA for an illness that features some of the same symptoms as Ebola, you will likely be asked a few questions.

Doctors say they need to know immediately if you have traveled to a country that may be dealing with the virus.

Once learning a little bit about a patient’s travel history, experts say they can determine what future steps need to be taken.

If needed, experts say they have a plan in place to immediately isolate anyone who may have come in contact with the virus and is showing symptoms.