Cape hospitals, first responders take Ebola seriously

On Saturday the World Health Organization said more than 10,000 people have been infected with Ebola. The number includes confirmed, probable and suspected cases. About half of those infected have died. The WHO said the numbers are likely underestimated.

Though most cases are outside the U.S., there have been people in this country with the disease. Though we don't want to cause unfounded concern or fear, it's important that those in health care be prepared to treat it.

While those locally say it would be unlikely for a case of Ebola to turn up here, emergency responders are taking the threat of the disease seriously. Jane Wernsman, executive director of the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, said both hospitals in Cape Girardeau are taking steps to make sure they are prepared.

Part of being prepared is asking the right questions. For instance, did the patient travel outside the country? If so, where? And if they are experiencing symptoms of Ebola and recently visited Liberia, for example, the person would be treated as if they are infected with the disease, according to Gayla Tripp, infection prevention nurse at Saint Francis Medical Center.

How the U.S. proceeds on this issue is a serious matter. Republicans in Congress are encouraging the president to implement more travel restrictions to and from West Africa. Considering the seriousness of this virus, it's frustrating that this measure has not already been implemented. No, Ebola is not widespread in the U.S., however the U.S. should implement restrictions that would help limit exposure.

To all those who have been infected with Ebola, we pray for quick healing. We extend our condolences to those who have lost family members from the virus.