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Local nurses not worried at Ebola fears

Posted October 8, 2014

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— Doctors, nurses and first-responders are the first line of defense in handling a potential Ebola case.

And despite a survey by National Nurses United, which represents 185,000 nurses across the country, those attending a state nursing convention in downtown Raleigh Wednesday say they feel prepared for a possible outbreak.

The national online survey of 1,700 nurses in 35 states found that 76 percent reported that their hospital has not communicated to them any policy regarding the admission of Ebola patients.

Although the prospect of the disease is scary, members of the North Carolina Nurses Association say they feel confident in their ability to treat it.

NCNA spokesman Chris Cowperwaite said the association has seen hospitals across the state working closely with health care workers to make sure they're as prepared as possible.

"The amount of attention being given to this particular disease is a good reminder for health care facilities to refine protocols for infectious diseases all year long," Cowperwaite said.

Health care workers, such as Yolanda Smith, who works as a nurse in the Raleigh area, say that, though they feel ready, they believe more can be done in terms of training, developing methods for treating the virus and educating others.

"This is a huge scare, but I think, if we can maintain it and educate everyone about the safety and then minimize infection, then everyone is better prepared," Smith said.

Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has consulted on dozens of suspicious cases, only one has been diagnosed as Ebola.

Infectious disease experts say that, although it's normal to feel anxious about a virus that kills so fast and is ravaging parts of West Africa, an outbreak is unlikely in the United States.

The virus is not airborne – capable of being spread only through direct contact with an infected patient's bodily fluids – and a person becomes contagious only once symptoms appear.

Those include severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting and unexplained bleeding.

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