Doctor weighs in on Ebola concerns

(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Doctors in West Michigan are weighing in on the fear surrounding the quickly spreading Ebola virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Level Three Alert, warning against all non-essential travel to West African countries dealing with the Ebola virus outbreak.

So far, 729 people have died from the virus since March.

Newschannel 3's Aaron Baskerville is live in the newsroom with a breakdown of the real risk.

Doctors tell Newschannel 3 the current mortality rate for the Ebola virus is 60 percent -- basically two out of every three people who get it, die.

Many believe the numbers would decrease greatly, with patients coming to the U.S. for better care, but right now, it's not considered a threat to the U.S.

It's now being called an "epidemic of fear" by some doctors across the country. In West Michigan, the Ebola virus, potentially deadly, has many worried it will make its way to them.

Dr. David Davenport, director of infectious prevention and control services at Borgess Medical Center, says it's not a major threat here and not considered highly contagious.

Davenport says, "It's not an airborne disease, so when you take proper precautions in the hospital, we isolate the patients. We wear gowns, gloves, masks, face shields. There's little to no risk."

Right now, a travel warning remains in effect for West Africa, countries like Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Davenport, who worked in the Congo in the 1960s as a medical missionary, says what could be a concern, is if someone on the plane who is asymptomatic has the virus, but doesn't know it. There are no specific signal flags.

Some question why two American aid workers are leaving Africa, coming to a hospital in Atlanta with trained staff in the next few days.

Davenport says, "There's inadequate supplies, there's inadequate help and equipment, where doctors and workers get infected is when they're working in an uncontrolled environment."

Those most at are close family members of the sick and those who work at these hospitals. Doctors say we are globally connected and there's a strong movement for a global surveillance network.

"Anything that happens in a small town in China or small river in the Congo, with our population dynamics and travel, effects all of us," Davenport says.

We're told most people who get the virus, don't realize it until it's too late. Symptoms could mimic the flu, with fever and chills. Once again, there's no specific indicator to tell you have it.