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Louisville doctor helps hospitals navigate Ebola threat

Published: Oct. 9, 2014 at 3:11 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 23, 2014 at 5:13 AM EST
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Dr. Ruth Carrico is advising the CDC as part of a committee that's now focused on how to...
Dr. Ruth Carrico is advising the CDC as part of a committee that's now focused on how to prevent and control the disease on American soil. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Hospitals across the country are the first line of defense to stop Ebola from taking lives in the United States.

"It is uncharted territory for us in some instances," Doctor Ruth Carrico, a physician and clinical director for UofL's Vaccine & International Health and Travel Center, said Wednesday.

Carrico is advising the CDC as part of a committee that's now focused on how to prevent and control the disease on American soil. Carrico says that's why doctors and hospitals need to make changes right now.

[PREVIOUS STORY: How Ebola originated, how it is spread, how you can protect yourself]

"So instead of saying, 'Oh, that will never happen here', now we're saying, 'Well, likely not, but it could,'" she said.

There are lessons to be learned. Thomas Duncan who died from Ebola Wednesday in a Dallas hospital had been wrongfully released. Two days later he was again hospitalized, but it is still not clear why he was released.

However, Carrico says symptoms like a fever or body aches can't be automatically blamed on the flu.

[PREVIOUS STORY: First Ebola patient diagnosed in US dies]

The questions need to be asked up front, like whether the patient has recently traveled overseas.

"If the answer is no then we go down the usual pathway. But if the answer is yes, then we need to be taking a whole new set of issues into consideration," she said.

Carrico believes Louisville is at no higher risk than any other place, but she is confident the city's healthcare system can navigate through the threat.

"A new normal needs to be in place," she said.

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