“The public should not be scared:” Froedtert, Medical College prepared should an Ebola case occur here

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A man visiting from Liberia has become the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. He is in isolation at a Dallas hospital. His sister says he went to the hospital on Friday, September 26th and was sent away with antibiotics. He returned on Sunday, and was admitted. Members of the ambulance crew who took him and members of his family are among the 12 to 18 people being monitored. Texas Governor Rick Perry says a handful of school children who had contact with the man are also being monitored. The emergency of Ebola in the United States has put medical personnel on high alert across the country, and that includes hospitals in Wisconsin.

"The public should not be scared. My message to them would be one of reassurance. The chances of such events happening are very small and if it does happen we are very well prepared," Dr. Sid Singh, Associate Chief Medical Officer at Froedtert Hospital said.

Dr. Singh says Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin already have protocols in place for infectious diseases, including Ebola, but recently, equipment was double-checked and doctors and nurses underwent refreshers.

"They've had some recent updates in their training about how to deal with such a patient and isolation procedures," Dr. Singh said.

Dr. Singh says he's confident an uncontrollable outbreak of Ebola wouldn't happen in the United States because of the healthcare system, the public health infrastructure and the environment in general is very different from West Africa -- where Ebola has claimed more than 3,300 lives.

So what would happen to en Ebola patient here, besides isolation?

"If someone comes in with the right clinical picture, with the right symptoms, with the right history of having contact with somebody who could have had the Ebola virus disease, we will test them," Dr. Singh said.

Then comes treatment and containment -- which for Froedtert, a Trauma One center, includes searching for anyone the infected person may have had contact with.

"When such a situation happens, hospitals don't work alone. They work with the public Health Department," Dr. Singh said.

Again -- Dr. Singh stresses that the chances of the Ebola virus coming to Wisconsin are slim, but if it does, he says Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin are ready.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Ebola from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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