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Ebola Poses Little Risk in the Northwest, Health Officials Say

Public health officials in the Northwest say Ebola poses little threat to the region, but they are prepared to isolate and treat infected health workers or travelers. There have been no suspected or confirmed cases in Oregon or in Washington.

Katrina Hedberg, Oregon State Health Officer, says that most people traveling between West Africa and the United States are aware of the risk of Ebola. “Most people we hope will self identify, will want to get evaluated, will not want to spread any infection to other people,” she says.

Hedberg says emergency rooms and hospitals have been reminded to ask patients about recent travel. If you’ve been in West Africa and develop a fever or diarrhea, share your travel history with a doctor. Hedberg says standard isolation protocols hospitals use to treat patients with highly contagious diseases like the measles would be adequate for an Ebola patient as well.

Washington's state public health laboratory is among relatively few in the US that the CDC has certified to test for Ebola. Scott Lindquist, the state epidemiologist, says so far the no tests have been requested.

Ebola has killed more than 2,000 people in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting