LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Health officials Tuesday told the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that plans are in place to protect Southland residents against any potential outbreak – however unlikely – of the Ebola virus.

Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the interim head of the Department of Public Health, told the Board of Supervisors that while there are no cases of Ebola in Los Angeles County, he acknowledged the case of a patient in Dallas – who was originally turned away and later determined to have the historically lethal virus – has heightened public concern across the country.

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More than 7,400 cases of Ebola and more than 3,400 deaths have been reported due to the virus in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. Experts now project that there may be more than 20,000 cases within the month.

“The epidemic is out of control,” Gunzenhauser said.

KNX 1070’s Megan Goldsby reports Gunzenhauser added, however, that the county maintains a “first-class healthcare system” that should give it an advantage over countries in which the spread of Ebola has been rampant due to limited healthcare access.

Dr. Mitchell Katz, who runs the county’s hospital system, said there have been seven cases where county healthcare workers had to assume that patients had Ebola, based on symptoms and travel histories. All seven were put in isolation and confirmed not to have the virus, said Katz, pointing to the work as an effective training exercise.

“We’re doing all we can to inform front-line providers…to call us immediately” if any suspected case is identified, Katz said.

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A survey conducted by National Nurses United (NNU) of about 1,400 registered nurses at over 250 hospitals across 31 states found 85 percent of nurses say their hospital has not provided proper training, education in response to possible Ebola infection.

One-third of respondents said their hospital has insufficient supplies of eye protection, such as face shields or side shields with goggles, and fluid resistant/impermeable gowns. A whopping 80 percent of all respondents said their has not communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola, according to NNU.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who asked for the County Department of Health, the Department of Public Health, the Office of Emergency Management and others to provide the update on precautions being taken against Ebola, noted that travelers in China submit to temperature checks as part of regional efforts to control the spread of disease.

When asked whether a similar procedure could be instituted here, Gunzenhauser said he believed airlines were considering the possibility, but he couldn’t say how likely it was to be instituted.

A nurse’s assistant in Spain contracted the virus after treating two patients who died of Ebola. She has been cited as the first case of the virus contracted outside of West Africa.

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