State health officials minimizing concerns for Ebola arriving in Wisconsin

CREATED Aug 1, 2014

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MADISON -- Officials at Wisconsin's Department of Health Services don't think the virus poses an immediate danger, but they are preparing for it anyway. 

The Ebola virus is often deadly, and after an outbreak in Africa, at least one American patient will be brought to a hospital in Atlanta for treatment. 
 
The transfer is sparking a scare about the virus spreading, with daily flights from Atlanta to cities across the country; some fear Ebola is just a plane ride away. Three airlines connect Atlanta and Milwaukee (Delta, Southwest and Air Tran).
 
TODAY'S TMJ4 spoke at length today with Dr. Jim Kazmierczak, an epidemics expert at DHS, who did stress Ebola does have a chance -- a slim one -- of reaching here. Still, Kazmierczak says it's unlikely.
 
"I think the basic message is - we don't have any cases here, therefore no one should lose sleep over this," Kazmierczak explained. "Ebola, even if it does get introduced, is not going to take off in the United States like it has in West Africa primarily because we have hospital infrastructure and infection control."
 
That infrastructure includes things like gloves, goggles and scrubs.
 
Still, the state won't take any chances. Kazmierczak is in the process of sending out warnings and guidelines to health care providers: take special care with anyone who traveled to West Africa within the last three weeks, or comes in close contact with someone who has.
 
If a patient meets that criteria, physicians must report the case, send a specimen to the Centers for Disease Control, and prepare infection controls.