Putting Ebola into perspective - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Putting Ebola into perspective

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - This year will be remembered as the one in which Ebola crossed over into the U.S.

While the few cases have been isolated, for weeks, Americans have expressed fear about the deadly virus.

Still, only one man died in the U.S. of the disease.

Now experts say they hope Ebola doesn't distract from the greater threat of other, more common infectious diseases in the Heartland.

“Of course we're concerned about Ebola because it is a new virus introduction into the United States," said infection prevention nurse Gayla Trip. "However, realistically speaking we need to be more concerned regarding diseases we encounter every year.”

Ebola has been all over the headlines, and while the outbreak in West Africa is still rampant, no new cases have been detected stateside since October 23.

That's why infection prevention nurse Gayla Tripp said doctors in the U.S. are focusing on the flu.

However, she says that's not the case for the public.

“We haven't received any calls related to flu," said Tripp "We have received a lot of calls related to Ebola. And a lot of it is our planning procedures that we have here at Saint Francis.”

But experts say the emphasis should lie on the viral diseases we see every year.

For example, influenza, Enterovirus D68, whooping cough, and measles are much more prevalent in the U.S. than Ebola.

And they pose a more serious threat.

Flu cases are of the utmost concern, Tripp said the virus claims between 3,000 and 50,000 American lives each year.

“It's hard to predict if it's going to be a severe season. You kind of have to just sit back and watch and wait. The most important thing you can do is get vaccinated for influenza," said Tripp.

But not every virus has a vaccine.

Like Enterovirus D68, which the Centers for Disease Control says has been detected in 47 states.

And even for those with a vaccine, not everyone is on board.

That's why measles and whooping cough cases have seen a resurgence in recent years.

For those against getting a shot, staying healthy relies on age old measures.

“Best advice I can always give anybody is to wash your hands. We've known that for 150 years. That's the basics of infection prevention that we preach every day," advised Tripp.

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