Health officials: Ebola in Hawaii unlikely, but state is ready

Queen's Medical Center

The deadly Ebola outbreak has now claimed nearly 1,500 lives. The virus has been mainly contained to West Africa.

Officials say the risk of Ebola spreading to the U.S. is low, but what would happen if it ever reached Hawaii?

“The risk of someone coming to Hawaii with Ebola is very, very small,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist Melissa Viray.

“Unless you’re travelling to one of those endemic areas that are experiencing outbreaks currently the risk should be very low,” said Dr. Erlaine Bello, infectious disease specialist with Queen’s Medical Center.

But KHON2 still wanted to know if Hawaii would be ready, just in case.

“I think Hawaii, both local hospitals and the Department of Health, have a good relationship with the CDC and I think we have the resources as well as the expertise to manage a case of Ebola,” said Bello.

At Queen’s Medical Center, there is no room designed specifically for Ebola, but the hospital says it is equipped to deal with the virus if needed.

“So if someone showed up in the ER with suspected Ebola symptoms, they would immediately be placed into an isolation room,” said Bello. “The door would be closed at all times. There would be a facilities log kept of everyone who entered the room and anyone who entered the room at a minimum would be wearing gloves, eye protection, goggles and a mask and impermeable gown.”

Two American missionaries were infected with Ebola after working in West Africa. They were brought to the United States for treatment and both have since recovered.

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