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An Update on the Ebola Outbreak

The death toll from the Ebola virus in West Africa continues to climb. With two Americans infected with the disease coming back to the U.S. for treatment, health officials are trying to calm fears that an outbreak could happen here.

Dr. Bruce MacLeod, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society and physician with the Allegheny Health Network, said Ebola is a virus which attacks the vascular system and makes blood vessels “leaky,” which leads to hemorrhaging. MacLeod said the virus tends to thrive in impoverished regions of Africa due to poor sanitation in everyday life and in hospitals.

MacLeod said that at this point, there is no chance for an outbreak of Ebola in the U.S.

“There’s never been a case of Ebola outside Africa," he said. "So while, folks are concerned about it, Ebola is transferred by human secretions … It’s not as communicable as say, influenza, where you can sneeze or get the cold. When we have had outbreaks of influenza, those are much more communicable than the Ebola virus.”

MacLeod does not believe the recent return of American doctors infected with the Ebola virus poses a threat to the U.S. The doctors were transported to a hospital in Georgia this week.

“The chance of it being transmitted to the rest of the country, even to other patients or staff members at Grady Hospital in Atlanta is extremely low, and the idea of it being a pandemic is highly, highly unlikely.”