Originally Published: October 4, 2014 6:03 a.m.
The spread of Ebola in West Africa - and its arrival in Texas - have dominated the news for some time now.
Thousands of people are coming down with the virus in Africa, including a few people who have been brought to the United States for treatment. One of the latest to become infected is a cameraman who works for the NBC network.
Some have theorized Americans with the infection have been brought home to receive the best treatment possible, a reason some attribute to the man in Dallas as well. He may have wanted to come here - to get here for help. That is because the U.S. is positioned better than most, due to its prior experience with similar outbreaks.
In today's Courier we've spoken with Yavapai County health officials, who said the virus could come to the Prescott area eventually, and they are ready for it. "We have a great infrastructure. These people are prepared as any country," said David McAtee, public information officer for Yavapai Community Health Services.
The situation is both a reason to emphasize precaution and to continue to bear witness.
The Daily Courier has heard rumors the virus has already spread outside of Texas; those thinking it has come to Arizona may be confusing it with Bubonic Plague, which has been found in rodents in Coconino County, for example.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given hospitals a checklist to more easily diagnose Ebola: Does the patient have a fever of 101.5 degrees? Do they have other Ebola-like symptoms, such as flu-like body aches, vomiting or diarrhea? If so, they're told to ask whether the person traveled to an Ebola-infected country during the past 21 days. The man in Texas has revealed that he was visiting from Liberia.
The CDC is repeating its instructions to health workers, and many hospitals say they're spreading the word to staff again after the Dallas case. Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, says it got a practice run a few weeks ago when the emergency room asked someone with possible symptoms about recent travel, learned he'd been to Liberia and immediately isolated him until doctors determined he didn't have Ebola, the Associated Press reported. In rural Coldwater, Ohio, a hospital even posted signs at main entrances telling patients to tell staff members if they had traveled to West Africa recently.
And, while screening travelers is important too, people don't always realize if they've been exposed to Ebola, said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. "We can't make the risk zero until the outbreak is controlled in West Africa," he said.
Now is the time to be hyper-vigilant, not panic.