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Southern Nevada Health District addresses Ebola virus concerns

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Photo: Video by ktnv.com

Southern Nevada Health District addresses Ebola virus concerns

By Denise Wong. CREATED Aug 8, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola Epidemic an International Health Emergency.

At least 932 people have been killed in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by the virus. But even though Las Vegas is an international tourist destination, health officials said the chances of Ebola spreading to Southern Nevada are slim.

Linda Verchick is the disease surveillance supervisor for the Southern Nevada Health District. She points out the Ebola outbreak has not spread to the United States. She said in the West African countries that have been affected, there are health workers, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monitoring everyone who gets on a flight out of those countries. She said they don't let anyone showing symptoms fly out.

Even if they did, there is no direct flight from any counties in West Africa to McCarran International Airport.

Christine Crews, a spokesperson for McCarran, said if there is a suspicion about a passenger, the airport would take direction from a lead agency, such as the Southern Nevada Health District.

The Ebola virus spreads through the blood, secretions or other bodily fluids of ill people. Verchick points out that a lot of the time, people who are infected by other infected patients are people who have been carrying for the ill.

Still, if the Ebola virus were to make its way to Southern Nevada, the health district has procedures in place to deal with it, which would include isolating infecting individuals and trying to determine who they had direct contact with.

But Verchick believes people in the valley who fear the Ebola virus probably don't know much about it.

"It's the fear of the unknown," she said.

Denise Wong

Denise Wong

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Denise Wong is a general assignment reporter for Action News. Catch her live reports on Good Morning Las Vegas.