LA officials: No need to panic over Dallas Ebola patient
BATON ROUGE - State and local health officials are prepared, should someone in the region show signs of Ebola, but said Tuesday, there is no need to worry following a positive test result in Texas.
"For everybody to go around everyday worrying about Ebola, (it) doesn't make any sense because it's not here like they're seeing it in Africa," Louisiana Department of Health and Hospital officer Jimmy Guidry said.
After confirming the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States, the Center for Disease Control revealed only a handful of people came in contact with the patient and those people are being monitored closely.
The patient is a man from West Africa who was visiting family in Texas. CDC officials said he showed no signs of the virus when he flew into the states. Experts said the man was not contagious during his flight.
Tuesday, DHH monitored the situation closely. The health department said it has been preparing state medical officials for a possible Ebola patient since the summer.
"For the last several weeks, we've been working to ready Louisiana's public health and medical infrastructure, including procedures for emergency medical workers, hospital physicians and regional emergency response coordinators. While we certainly hope that we never have an Ebola case in Louisiana, we are committed to ensuring that our health care system and our emergency responders are prepared," the department said in a statement Tuesday.
"The sky is not falling at all. I'm more worried about influenza this year and everybody getting their flu shot than I am about the Ebola case in Dallas right now," infectious disease specialist Catherine O'neal said.
O'neal works out of Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge. The hospital has a trauma center to meet the need of an Ebola patient should the situation come to the area.
She understands Ebola spreads fear, but believes since the virus itself is not spreading in the U.S. there is nothing to be fearful of.
"I think that we've all been prepared because we knew it was probably a matter of time and it's good to be prepared," O'neal said.