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Don't let fear over Ebola cause you stress

October 15, 2014

Don’t let everything you read or hear about Ebola cause you stress.

"Your chances of contracting Ebola are extremely slim. More people will die in this country from flu this season than from Ebola," said Dr. Sarah Haessler of the Infectious Disease Division at Baystate Medical Center. "Also, more people are at risk from airborne diseases such as measles and tuberculosis."

How Ebola spreads

You cannot get Ebola through the air, food, water, or touching someone’s keyboard or money. Ebola is only spread through bodily fluids from an infected person.

Therefore, those at greatest risk are healthcare workers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with the blood or bodily fluids, such as diarrhea and vomit, of sick patients.

"That means Ebola is not as contagious as airborne pathogens such as the measles, and you are not going to get Ebola from an infected person sitting next to you on a train or coughing on an airplane," Dr. Haessler said.

Ready for anything

For the protection of its patients and staff, Baystate has for the past several weeks been engaged in planning and preparation for the unlikely possibility that a patient may present at one of its facilities with possible Ebola symptoms, noted Nancy Shendell-Falik, RN, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, Baystate Medical Center.

In a statement to the local media on Monday, Shendell-Falik said, "We have provided informational and material resources to our caregivers in as many ways as possible, including 1:1 education and a section of our internal website devoted to Ebola information. We have also been in close contact with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and our fellow health providers to ensure we are as informed and prepared as we can be. This work continues every day."

"We want to again reassure our community that, while it is quite unlikely that we will have an Ebola patient here in western Massachusetts, we are ready to care for any possible cases, and we have the utmost confidence in our caregivers' ability to deal safely and appropriately with any such health concern," she added.