The Ebola virus is spreading to new regions, and there’s concern the outbreak may be more difficult to contain.
The death toll is now near 1,000.
Health officials in North Carolina also say missionaries returning to the United States after working with patients infected with Ebola will be put in quarantine and monitored.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said the quarantine will last at least three weeks since the missionaries were last exposed to people infected with the Ebola virus.
Christine Webb sat down with Dr. Timothy Hendrix with Florida CentraCare to explain what this means for the U.S. and advice on what we should do here.
CHRISTINE WEBB: You were doing some research on this with regards to the flu and comparing it to Ebola.
DR. TIMOTHY HENDRIX: Right, the question I had is how contagious is this. When you look at things like influenza- the risk of transmission within a family is like 20 percent. This virus is a little bit different. If you come into contact, how contagious is it for Ebola? But backing up a little bit Ebola doesn't even compare to the upper respiratory infections or viruses that we see here in the United States like measles or pertussis. These are airborne type infections that are spread through the air. Ebola is a contact infection. It takes contact with the infected person or infected body fluids. So, in a sense, it's hard to get. You actually have to physically come in contact with the infected person or infected fluids.
WEBB: With this disease spreading so much, and since there are two Americans here in this country with the disease, what should we do to protect ourselves?
HENDRIX: In the United States, in industrialized nations with hospitals with infection prevention processes -- gloves, masks, gowns, that type of thing, these are fairly easy to isolate. So this is not as contagious and containment is fairly easy compared to other infections, for example measles. But although this is a scary sounding virus I think if it popped up here in the United States we could isolate it easy. This virus has to spread through the community and cause a problem. If you quarantine and isolate it doesn't have an opportunity to spread.
WEBB: Recently, the FDA eased a hold that they had on the restrictions of an experimental drug, what does that mean for Ebola patients? Does this mean a cure is coming?
HENDRIX: The care for somebody with Ebola and we know with the mortality rates range anywhere from 60 percent to 90 percent I think that percentage goes lower. I mean we're able to save more lives with effective medicine and treatment and supportive care... but antibiotics are used only for secondary infections. So if someone becomes ill with pneumonia, their immune system's down, then they get bacterial pneumonia on top of that.