Fear more contagious than Ebola, says city health director

Courtesy CDC by Cynthia Goldsmith

Courtesy CDC by Cynthia Goldsmith

A widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States is impossible but fear makes people forget that, the city health director said today.

“Fear is almost never helpful” in dealing with contagious disease, health director Rex Archer told the council public safety committee.

Ebola is not easily transmitted except by contact in its later stages, he noted.

Fear mongers say that it might shift and become airborne although it has not since its discovery in 1976, Archer said. “It’s never been airborne and the odds of that happening are extremely small….”

The United States also does not have the conditions that allowed the disease to spread in Africa, he said.

We do not eat fruit bats, antelopes and other animals there that can become infected, he said. Nor do family members here handle corpses before burial.

He noted that the first case in Texas involved a man who was at first discharged from a hospital with a fever and spent two days with his finance.

The woman did not get the disease, though two nurses who later treated the man at the hospital did.

They have since recovered, Archer said, and show that the 60 percent mortality rate attributed to Ebola in Africa would be unlikely in the United States.

African countries do not have the medical facilities, staff or training to deal with the problem as well, he said.

“I would be concerned if we had conditions here like West Africa,” he said. “We can manage Ebola.”

There are other things to worry about, he said. In Kansas City, infectious disease is the fifth leading cause of death, but the killers are flu and pneumonia.

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