ATLANTA - An infectious disease expert doesn't believe Metro Atlanta residents have anything to fear from the two American Ebola patients headed to Emory University Hospital for treatment.
"There's no reason for immediate concern," Dr. Robin Dretler of Infectious Disease Specialists in Decatur said. "It requires very much direct contact. It's transmitted person to person directly. It is not transmitted by mosquitoes or by surfaces or by aerosole, so you can't get it from sitting down in some place where someone sat or by walking by a room that has a sick person in it."
Dretler said the virus cannot be spread through the air like a cold or flu, but he did say once contracted, it does present severe flu-like symptoms within five days to two weeks of infection.
"High fever, shaking chills, muscle aches, headache, like a very bad flu onset," Dretler said. "And then progressing to vomiting, diarrhea and then stupor, coma and bleeding from every opening."
According to Dretler, the Ebola virus immediately attacks the body's liver, spleen and adrenal glands, but then it causes an immune system reaction where patients start clotting then dissolving the clots. He said, basically, your body is completely overwhelmed by its own immune response.
For those who contract it, he said the Ebola virus is between 60 percent and 90 percent fatal.
Dretler added that he has complete confidence in the Centers for Disease Control and Emory University Hospital's ability to handle the Ebola patients.
"I am sure there will be very restricted access to them to very few people who are all highly trained and highly knowledgeable and not suicidal. So they're going to take precautions when they are caring for the patients," Dretler said.
Dretler also hopes the CDC and other health organizations can get the necessary funding to go to Africa and eradicate Ebola the same way smallpox was eradicated during the last century.
"What we really need to do, is to make sure that we are sending effective resources to Central Africa to stop it there," said Dretler.