The Ebola virus entered the country for the first time this month, and concerns about the virus have overtaken social media and daily talks.
Concerned citizens may feel more at ease when they learn more about the disease and the plans that WEMA and state officials have in place.
The virus has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa during the most recent outbreak of the disease that began in Dec. 2003.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola or Ebola HF) is a severe viral hemorrhagic fever and is often fatal in humans.
People at the highest risk for infection are family and friends of patients with Ebola and healthcare workers like Dr. Kent Brantly.
Brantly, nephew of Ken Snell, former minister at the College Hills Church of Christ, is one of two American doctors currently being treated in an Atlanta hospital for the virus.
Brantly contracted the virus while on a medical mission trip to help sickened individuals in Liberia. He was the first American to be treated for Ebola in a special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital.
The disease is not easily transmitted, however, according to the CDC. People would have to come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person to catch the virus.
Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and expert on infectious diseases, said it is difficult for some people to understand how Ebola is spread.
“It is hard for folks to understand this is not transmitted the way influenza is. There is no respiratory transmission of this virus.” Schaffner said. “I think it is important to address those anxieties and provide reassurance that this is not a virus that is going to establish itself in this country.”
There are procedures in place if the virus is noticed in Wilson County or surrounding areas.
The CDC released an official advisory to medical centers and personnel earlier this month, which is a standard procedure whenever a threat emerges in the country. It does not mean the virus or disease is an immediate threat. Local authorities, including Wilson County Emergency Management Agency, received that advisory.
Daniel Cowan, WEMA planning officer, said WEMA has a plan in place and it is based on the procedure outlined by the state.
That procedure includes several protocols for dealing with a pandemic and ways to identify and contain it. Some of these protocols are as follows: implement “cover your cough,” “implement isolation precautions, implement transportation protocols, implement patient placements, report individual suspect cases to health department and ensure infection control has sufficient resources.”
Cowan said he is confident in the plan if the Ebola pandemic ever reached Wilson County, but doubts it would ever happen with the medical technology and procedures available.