As has been widely reported, Nebraska Medicine – Nebraska Medical Center has treated two patients who contracted the Ebola virus. Because of this, we wanted to make sure you have the facts about Ebola and the conditions under which these patients were being treated. Below are some frequently asked questions, along with answers. Please also read this letter from Dr. Douglas Wheatley, MD, Director of Student Health.
Is it safe for me to come in for my appointment?
Yes. The patients were being cared for in a highly secure and sealed unit in a different building. There is no risk to you, your family members or the staff here in the clinic.
Why was this patient being treated here?
Our medical center has one of four highly specialized and secure biocontainment units in the United States. It was built ten years ago for the purpose of containing and treating patients with infectious diseases. Our staff there is highly trained, well-respected and prepared for this.
Why didn’t this patient go to Atlanta like the other ones?
The U.S. State Department says it’s necessary to build a national resilience to treating this disease. Instead of concentrating all the experience in one medical center, they felt it was important for experts at the other biocontainment facilities to be involved as well. As the largest unit in the country, we have an important role to play.
Isn’t Ebola highly contagious?
No. While the disease does have a high mortality rate, it’s only transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. It cannot be transmitted through the air.
If I have a compromised immune system, am I at higher risk?
No. You should still follow your doctor’s orders about keeping free from infection, but this patient does not pose an added risk. The biocontainment unit is in a different building and is completely sealed and self-contained.