KC area hospital prepares for possible Ebola outbreak - KCTV5 News

KC area hospital prepares for possible Ebola outbreak

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Mindful of an alert from the federal government, the University of Kansas Hospital is taking precautions in case of an Ebola outbreak.

"We have to be vigilant," said Dr. Lee Norman, chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Hospital. "Things are not just over there anymore. They could be here."

An outbreak in several West Africa countries has killed hundreds. An American doctor infected with the virus arrived at Emory Hospital in Atlanta on Saturday. An American aid worker, Nancy Writebol, infected with the virus could arrive at Emory as soon as Sunday. Her son is a pastor in Wichita. 

As a precaution, University of Kansas doctors will take an even closer look at symptoms when patients arrive.

"We make sure that we have isolation rooms and all of our isolation and contact precautions in place so that we can care for them and not become infected ourselves or infect other people who would be in the area," he said.

Norman said the hospital has 17 special isolation rooms.

"They are negative airflow rooms. When an alarm is on, you cannot open that door and this door to the patient area at the same time," Norman said. "We are always ready for patients with infectious diseases."

The doctors, nurses and other staff members have special masks that they use with tuberculosis patients.

Ebola spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids and not through coughing, sneezing or breathing, health experts say.

Part of the spread in West Africa comes from societies where cremation is taboo and family members prepare bodies for burial at home.

"It puts them in direct contact with the infectious agent because people are infectious long after they are dead with Ebola virus," Norman said.

He said that scientists can learn by having the Americans treated at Emory. He said the patients will have access to better health care and officials can see what treatments work best.

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