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UW-Madison doctor weighs in on Ebola outbreak

MADISON -- The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has now killed almost one-thousand people.

There’s already one Ebola victim being treated in the U.S., and by Tuesday a second will be in the country.

The question many people are asking is why bring those infected people into the United States?

“Bringing people back to this country makes sense because of the resources that are available to treat that aren’t there.” said Dr. Nasia Safdar, Medical Director of Infection Control at the UW-Madison hospital.

She says despite some people’s fears, there is very little chance Ebola patients being treated in the United States will pass on the virus to anybody else because they are in the highest level quarantine.

 “Even though it’s not necessary for Ebola, I think they are taking the maximum number of precautions they can do.” Safdar said.

She says Ebola is not spread through the air, you have to make contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

But doctors and nurses in countries like Liberia, where Ebola is sweeping through, are having a hard time stopping the spread.

“They don’t have gloves, they don’t have protective gear.” said UW-Madison graduate student Emmanuel Urey.

He lived in Liberia up until 2011, but still visits. He just got back to Wisconsin last week, and says nurses in Liberia have stopped going to work because they are scared.

“They are dying.  They are dying at a faster rate than any other set of population in Liberia.” Urey said.

He calls the Ebola outbreak in his home country an invisible war, and says without basic medical supplies, he thinks the situation will get much worse.

Safdar agrees, she said, “Because of the impact of this virus on the population of these countries and lack of infrastructure, they need all the help they can get. “

She says Ebola will kill almost 60 percent of the people it infects. She says those who survive can go on to live a normal life. That’s the main reason the two infected Americans are being brought back to the U.S. for treatment.

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