UCI Ebola Meeting: Epidemic In U.S. Is Highly Unlikely

IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — Doctors from across California convened at UC Irvine on Monday night to discuss their plan to fight the spread of Ebola should the virus arrive in California.

Doctors discussed their plan of attack at UCI’s medical center, one of five medical facilities prepared to treat patients, and spoke to an audience of concerned residents about the possibility of an outbreak in the United States.

The expert panel also reassured audience members by claiming that the probability of an outbreak is slim to none.

“This is the most important thing I’m going to say: a transmission is from symptomatic people,” UCSF professor of epidemiology George Rutherford said. “If you’re walking, driving around on the subway and you have no symptoms, you’re not infectious.”

UCI professor of infectious diseases Michael Buchmeier told hundreds of attendees Monday night that, unlike Africa, which has fruit bats or rodents that can act as likely hosts for the virus, the United States does not have such a host. He went on to add that the U.S. benefits from much better medical care as well.

“What we’re preparing for is a disease that is terrifying, that may seem uncontrollable. But it is eventually (controllable).” Buchmeier said. “What we really have to do is stay calm.”

The panel explained that much of the public has taken to looking at numbers in the worst-case scenario, accepting that millions would contract the virus in the event that medical treatment were not available.

“The likelihood of anything of a substantial nature happening here is pretty remote.”

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