Ebola fears rise, health professionals continue preparedness pla - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ebola fears rise, health professionals continue preparedness plans

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As fears of Ebola continue to rise across the U.S. and in eastern Iowa, Linn County health professionals are trying to ease that fear.

Medical personnel at hospitals and clinics in Linn County have been joining forces to form rapid response teams. They say preparedness is their number one priority.

Despite what you might read on social media or heard by word of mouth, there have been no cases of Ebola in Iowa.

However, that's not stopping medical staff across Linn County from being prepared.

Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health--Cedar Rapids are working closely with Linn County Public Health and have formed rapid response teams, and some are volunteers.

If anyone comes into one of the hospitals or clinics they're screened. Health professionals ask if they have a fever because that's one of the common symptoms of Ebola, they then ask about travel history.

"So if I have fever, and anyone of those symptoms, but I haven't traveled to an endemic area, and haven't been around anybody that's traveled to an endemic area, my chances of having something serious like Ebola are essentially nil," said Dr. Mark Valliere, senior VP of medical affairs at Mercy Medical Center.

Each hospital and clinic in Linn Country are equipped with full-body protective gear to protect medical staff.

"They are constantly exposed to people coming in with contagious disease," said Valliere. "It may be something as simple as a common cold, it may be something slightly more serious like influenza, it might be right up to Ebola. So it's a reminder to make the assumption that everybody coming in is a potential contagion."

Since guidelines and circumstances surrounding Ebola have been changing rapidly, they'll continue to monitor for new developments to and adjust preparations as needed.

"Low likelihood that we have a case in the community and it is not transmitted through casual contact," said Dr. Dustin Arnold, UnityPoint Health chief medical officer

Health professionals want to make it clear that Ebola is not airborne. It's only spread through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola.

Emergency responders like ambulance services in Linn County have designated a separate vehicle to transport patients if suspected to have Ebola. They also have formed special teams to potentially fight this deadly virus.

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