ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The Ebola virus is making its way around the world. It’s killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa in recent weeks. In Spain, a nursing assistant is fighting for her life and Wednesday it killed a Dallas man. The startling news has some New Mexican’s asking what if?
“That was what was gong through my mind is like OK now it’s going to become a crisis because now it’s in our country,” said Maria Valez.
Thursday, Ebola expert Dr. Toby L. Merlin addressed Ebola concerns at a University of New Mexico lecture.
“Ebola has become all consuming at CDC.” Merlin said.
Merlin is in charge of the Center for Disease Control’s infectious disease emergency response coordination. He says his team is working to contain the disease in Africa. Merlin says if they can do that the likelihood of it spreading to the U.S. and New Mexico is extremely unlikely.
“Ebola spreads only by direct person-to-person contact. It doesn’t spread through the air and diseases that spread through the air like measles or influenza are much greater risk,” said Merlin.
The New Mexico Department of Health says if Ebola makes its way into the state they’re prepared. They say if a patient comes into a local hospital with any symptoms of the disease, workers will ask them if they’ve traveled to West Africa lately or if they know someone who did. If the patient says yes, their blood will be sent to the CDC and the patient will be put in isolation until the results come back.
New Mexicans tell KRQE News 13 they hope they don’t start seeing that happen.
“I just hope it gets cleared up quickly because I know everyone is kind of uncomfortable with it,” said Cristina Gonzales.
The Department of Health also says the concern is much less in New Mexico because none of the state’s airports have international flights.
Customs and Border Protection agents are starting to screen passengers arriving from West Africa at five U.S. airports. Those airports including JFK and Chicago’s O’Hare were chosen based off of the number of international travelers they have.