JP officials work on Ebola readiness

JP officials work on Ebola readiness

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Dr. John Schieffelin with Tulane Medical Center has seen first-hand the devastating effects the Ebola virus take on the human body.

"Fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea - those are really the main symptoms, or really a profound weakness along with a fever," he said.

In August, Schieffelin spent three weeks treating infected people and training nurses in Sierra Leone.

"The conditions that most people face day-to-day in West Africa are really unimaginable to most Americans," Schieffelin said.

That point, Schieffelin said, is important for people in the U.S. to remember, as concerns over the virus spreading here increase. Infrastructure in the U.S. is far more equipped to handle the threat. Schieffelin said Tulane and University Hospital, where he also works, are both focused on being ready, just in case.

"From the triage in the emergency room all the way up through the intensive care unit," he said.

Meanwhile, Thursday in Jefferson Parish, law enforcement, airport security, hospital leaders and even the Coast Guard gathered to discuss their own readiness. With so much traffic moving along the Mississippi River and coming into the airport, officials said they aren't taking any chances.

"Those modes of travel where we see people coming from foreign countries have been focused on at the national level, but here as well," said state health officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry. "We had people here from Port Authority, we had people here from the airport, so we are talking with them and the Coast Guard, so that if anyone comes into this country from those modes of travel - high alert."

Jefferson Parish President John Young said it's no time to panic, but it's important to stay ahead of the situation.

"We don't have any confirmed cases in Louisiana, but we just want to be ready in case something happens."

As officials across the globe battle the threat, Schieffelin believes new cases in this country may be unavoidable. However, he's confident the response will be effective.

"Cases are going to pop up around the United States for the next several months, because we live in a global world and life can't grind to a halt, but I think everybody is being prepared and with the hospital resources that are in place and the public health resources that are available, I'm not concerned at all about a widespread epidemic in the United States," Schieffelin said.

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