UofL doctor puts Ebola threat into context

UofL doctor puts Ebola threat into context
Dr. Forest Arnold (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Forest Arnold (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Faith Childress (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Faith Childress (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The talk about Ebola has swept the nation, but so far only three cases have been reported in the United States.

"There's other diseases that have far higher statistics for killing people," Dr. Forest Arnold, an infectious diseases specialist with University of Louisville Physicians, said Wednesday.

The diseases he was referring to are not just overseas, but right here in Louisville. Dr. Arnold helped put the local Ebola threat into context.

[PREVIOUS STORY: How Ebola originated, how it is spread and how to protect yourself]

"In a returning traveler, malaria is much more common, than say, Ebola would be," he said.

While malaria is not contagious, tuberculosis is. According to the Kentucky Department of Health, in 2013 59 people had tuberculosis in the state, 21 of them were in Jefferson County.

Another virus that kills thousands of people every year is also one of the most preventable.

"A lot of people don't realize that the flu can be very severe and can be very deadly," Walgreens Pharmacy Resident Faith Childress said.

The CDC reports 23,000 people die from the flu each year in the United States. About 200,000 are sent to hospitals.

The Department also states Kentucky experienced a flu pandemic in the 2009-2010 flu season when 41 Kentuckians died.

So far pharmacists at Walgreens have been busy, but wish more people would get the shot.

"It is very frustrating because this is the best way to protect yourself from the flu and protect others from the flu," Childress said.

Dr. Arnold agreed. He recommends doing everything you can to prevent the spread of Ebola and other diseases.

"People should be worried about Ebola, but not to the point where they are panicking," Arnold said.

The CDC says since Ebola and the flu's symptoms can be similar, getting the flu shot will actually help them identify the problem quicker.

Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.