Idaho health officials closely watching Ebola developments

Idaho health officials closely watching Ebola developments »Play Video
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Health officials in Idaho say, as two Americans with the deadly Ebola virus are being brought to the USA for unprecedented treatment, risk that the deadly virus could escape its quarantine containment and spread to Idaho is extremely low.

"Unlike tuberculosis which can spread through the air (Ebola) does not do that," said state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn. "This requires a real close personal contact."

Still, Dr. Hahn says the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has sent messages to health departments around the state advising doctors of Ebola's flu-like symptoms and severe internal bleeding as well as which West African countries have travel warnings.

U.S. health officials are warning Americans not to travel to the three countries hit by the outbreak: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

"We're watching this very closely," said Dr. Hahn.

The two American aid workers infected with the Ebola virus in Africa will be treated at a specialized unit of an Atlanta hospital.

It will be the first time a patient with the highly infectious, usually fatal virus has ever been treated for the disease in the United States.

The concern among some is the virus will spread once the infected patients arrive in the United States or a person who has traveled in West Africa will introduce the disease into the United States.

"We do not anticipate this will spread in the U.S. if an infected person is hospitalized here," said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control in a statement this week. "We are taking action now by alerting health care workers in the U.S. and reminding them how to isolate and test suspected patients while following strict infection-control procedures."

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization on Thursday said it planned to launch a $100 million campaign with the help of member countries to bring under control an epidemic that it said has killed 729 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The U.N. agency, known as the WHO, said several hundred more medical personnel were needed in the three countries.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Doctors can only administer what they call "supportive therapy," which means supporting the patient's own immune system as it tries to battle the infection.

This usually involves intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and shock.

This therapy for Ebola patients could also include blood or platelet transfusions and oxygen therapy.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)