Despite the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's assurance that the deadly Ebola virus poses little risk to the US at this time, health workers in Boston are on alert for signs and symptoms so they can quickly identify the illness should it rear its ugly head in the Hub.
Clinical staff are being instructed to immediately screen patients for symptoms and ask about their travel histories, according to a report by The Boston Globe.
A protocol is in place for dealing with the disease, and involves isolating infected patients. The new precautions were urged by the CDC, and follow the worst-ever outbreak of the virus in West Africa. More than 1,000 people have become infected, and nearly 700 have died in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in the recent outbreak. Two US health care workers in Liberia have also become infected.
"These recent cases, together with the continued increase in the number of Ebola cases in West Africa, underscore the potential for travel-associated spread of the disease and the risks of [Ebola] to healthcare workers," the CDC said in an official health advisory.
Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center, told the Globe that there is a chance the virus could show up in the US due to international travel.
"I think we would be naive to think it’s not possible," said Bhadelia.
In order to contract the virus, which kills about 90 percent of its victims, one must come in contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.