Weber noted that while the virus is potentially fatal, “it is highly improbable to become a real threat in the U.S. For one thing, unlike other viruses such as the flu, which can be spread by casual contact, you’ve got to be in direct contact with infected bodily fluids to contract Ebola. It is not an airborne disease.”
According to Lifescript, the virus is believed to be spread by bats or other infected animals. When the animals are handled, or people have contact with their excrement, humans can come down with the disease. It can be spread by infected males during sexual intercourse.
Two American aid workers who had been helping Ebola victims in West Africa and who were infected on the job were flown to the U.S. for treatment this week at Emory University Hospital. Emory has special isolation facilities for victims of infectious diseases and works closely with the Centers for Disease Control, which is also located in Atlanta.
The CDC has stressed that there are no cases of individuals contracting Ebola in the United States and that it has “very well-established protocols in place to ensure the safe transport and care of patients with infectious diseases back to the United States,” including the two patients being treated at Emory.
Weber said that he issued his clarification on the Ebola issue because AMAC is focused on the needs and concerns of older Americans, the portion of the population that is especially focused on health.
“There are enough health threats that are real that deserve special attention such as the West Nile Virus, which is spread by mosquito bites in summertime. The elderly are particularly vulnerable, but they can take precautions to avoid infection.”
The AMAC chief pointed out that the disease is prevalent in the lower 48 states. Hawaii and Alaska have not ever had a documented case of West Nile Virus, perhaps because of their geographic locations. He said that the peak season for the disease is June through September and that prevention is easy: just avoid mosquito bites.
“Use insect repellents on your treks out of doors. Ask your physician or pharmacist which repellents are the most effective. As an added precaution, keep yourself relatively covered up in the evenings if you are venturing out; that’s the time of day when mosquitoes are most active. Indoors, make sure that screens are in good repair. Finally, mosquitoes breed in standing water, so make sure to check gutters, birdbaths, pet feeders that may be close to your house.”
NOTE TO EDITORS: Dan Weber is available for telephone interviews on this issue. Editors and reporters may contact John Grimaldi by phone at 917-846-8485 or via email at email@example.com to set up a call.
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John Grimaldi Consulting
John Grimaldi Consulting