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Children of Ebola Specialists Shunned, Hospital Says


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Children whose parents work with Ebola patients are being disinvited from birthday parties, according to one hospital.

Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious disease specialist at the Nebraska Medical Center, spoke at the hospital in an attempt to calm fears surrounding the Ebola virus. During his remarks he mentioned that a child belonging to a staff member in the biocontainment unit, where a freelance cameraman is being treated for Ebola, was invited to a birthday party. Later the child was disinvited once the host found out where the child’s parent worked.

Rupp said employees don’t plan on speaking to the media, but earlier on Monday the hospital tweeted about their experiences.

"Children of parents who are working in our Biocontainment Unit are being shunned. This isn't helpful or appropriate,” read one tweet.

"Having children shunned at birthday parties or soccer games because their parent works in the Bio Unit is irrational,” read another tweet.

Nebraska is one of four hospitals in the country that is fully equipped and has a staff trained in dealing with highly infectious diseases such as Ebola. The CDC has said that among the many misconceptions the public has about Ebola is that the virus can easily spread from casual contact.

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Dallas Nurses Call Colleagues Who Contracted Ebola 'Heroes'


Pham family/ Debra Barry(DALLAS) -- On Monday, nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital hailed as "heroes" their two colleagues who contracted Ebola caring for Thomas Eric Duncan -- the Liberian national who became the first person to be diagnosed with, and die of, Ebola in the United States.

Despite criticism against the Dallas hospital for mishandling the Ebola situation in recent days, chief nursing officer Cole Edmonson said the nurses were "devastated" by Duncan's death, but nevertheless "proud" of their work. His colleague, nurse Chantea Irving, called media reports "widely inaccurate," but none of the nurses elaborated on the investigations under way to determine why Duncan was initially sent home and how the nurses contracted Ebola from him.

"The men and women of this hospital worked tirelessly to save Mr. Duncan," said emergency department nurse Julie Boling. "Some things went wrong and we're proud to say [the hospital] owned those things."

Nurses Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29, were diagnosed with Ebola last week and are being cared for at the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, respectively. Both women cared for Duncan between Sept. 28 and Sept. 30, before he was isolated and when he was extremely contagious because he was vomiting and having diarrhea, officials said.

Duncan arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian on Sept. 26, but was sent home with antibiotics despite telling a nurse about having recently been in Liberia. He returned two days later in an ambulance when his symptoms worsened and was diagnosed and isolated. He died on Oct. 8.

Pham tested positive for Ebola in Dallas on Oct. 12, making her the first person to contract the deadly virus in the U.S. Vinson tested positive for Ebola on Oct. 15.

Later that day, the National Nurses' Union released a statement critical of Texas Health Presbyterian's Ebola protocols. Dr. Dan Varga, the chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, which owns the Dallas hospital, last week told Congress that its employees never got face-to-face Ebola training.

Vinson was flown to Emory on Oct. 15, the same day she was diagnosed at Texas Health Presbyterian. Pham had initially asked to stay at the Dallas hospital where she treated Duncan and was diagnosed with Ebola, but at the hospital's request, she was flown to the NIH facility on Oct. 16.

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Ebola Quarantine Ends for Louise Troh with 'Praise to God'


ABC News(DALLAS) -- When Louise Troh, the fiancee of Ebola victim Thomas Duncan, emerged from a three week quarantine Monday she reached both hands up to heaven and said, "Praise to God."

Troh has been in quarantine since Duncan was diagnosed with the disease. She was among 43 who were released from quarantine Monday.

Troh was delighted to no longer be confined.

"Praise to God. I am free. I am so happy…All thanks to God," she said, according to a spokesperson for Troh who spoke to ABC News.

Troh was delighted to no longer be confined, but her pastor said she currently has nowhere to go. Her lease was up on Sept. 30, and she and her family were temporarily staying in a donated apartment for part of the quarantine.

"She doesn't have a permanent residence at this point," said Pastor George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church. "She's lost everything that she owns in the apartment. She lost the man she loves."

Duncan, the Liberian national who arrived in Dallas in late September to visit family, went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas with Ebola symptoms on Sept. 26, but was sent home with antibiotics. He returned in an ambulance two days later when his symptoms worsened and was diagnosed with Ebola and placed in isolation.

But he spent more than a week around friends and family, who have been under close observation for the last three weeks amid fears that they, too, contracted the deadly virus. But none of them have shown any Ebola symptoms, officials said. Forty-three people are no longer under active monitoring, but about 120 people are still being monitored for possible Ebola symptoms, according to the health department.

The eight children who were released from Ebola quarantine Monday were expected to return to school on Tuesday, but four of the children surprised school officials by arriving on Monday, according to a statement from the Dallas Independent School District.

"While we had planned on them coming back to school Tuesday. They were obviously eager to return back to the school environment and decided on their own to attend," said Superintendent Mike Miles. "Because they have been cleared by medical authorities and pose no health risk to any students or staff, we have no intent on sending them home. Their interest in getting back into school is encouraging."

Duncan died on Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Two nurses contracted the virus from him, Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29. They are being treated for Ebola at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and the NIH hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, respectively.

Troh, Duncan's fiance, released a statement last week, announcing that she'd received an apology from the hospital for failing to save him. Although members of her family said he was treated unfairly, she said, "It is my position that God is the judge of others and their actions, and vengeance is not mine to demand. God is the judge, and God will take care of me."

The last people being monitored should Ebola should be out of the 21-day incubation period on Nov. 7, according to the health department.

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Another Reason Not to Skip Breakfast


Digital Vision/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, Mo.) -- You've probably heard time and time again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and yet, for a lot of folks, a quick cup of coffee and a slice of toast will suffice, if that.

However, University of Missouri researchers say that people, and particularly, young adults, are doing themselves a disservice by not sitting down to a high-protein breakfast since it can reduce the cravings for sweets and food loaded with fat.

Heather Leidy, who conducted the study, says when breakfast is skipped, the cravings and desire to overeat rise during the course of the day.

She figured this out by examining the brain's dopamine levels when different breakfasts are eaten.

Dopamine, the chemical that moderates impulse and rewards, is released by food among other things.

When people forgo breakfast, the dopamine level is blunted, meaning it takes more food later on to satisfy the brain's need for reward.

Conversely, Leidy said, a high-protein breakfast reduces that need as well as the impulse to grab a piece of food that's high in fat.

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Your Brothers and Sisters May Have Made You a Better Person


iStock/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) -- Siblings often fight like cats and dogs but they also may be helping each other in ways they never imagined.

In a study, co-author Laura Padilla-Walker of Brigham Young University’s Department of Family Life found that having a sibling teaches children to be more compassionate and generous as they age.

Padilla-Walker says this is particularly true of boys even if these positive qualities are considered more feminine.

To arrive at these conclusions, 308 pairs of teenage siblings were studied, regarding their personal development and the kinds of relationships they had with both family members and friends.

What the researchers determined is that siblings value their relationships with their brothers and sisters and even though they'll fight from time to time, they often walk away from conflicts sensitive to the other person's feelings.

Another positive that comes from a larger family, according to Padilla-Walker, is that there's more of a feeling of community and sharing.

On the other hand, youngsters who grow up as an only child can be at a disadvantage if there's no need to sacrifice or compromise.
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Uncertainty Can Add Excitement to Your Life


iStock/Thinkstock(HONG KONG) -- It's said that people like a sure thing. However, uncertainty can be more exciting.

That's what's called the motivating-uncertainty effect, according to researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and University of Hong Kong.

Apparently, while knowing the outcome of something provides a relative degree of comfort, uncertainty is seen as a way to motivate people.

To demonstrate this, the researchers ran several experiments.  One included splitting college students into two groups. The first was told they'd received $2 for drinking an entire glass of water while the other group was told the reward would be either $1 or $2 for completing the same task.

It turned out that more people who were uncertain about what the reward would be finished the water.

The researchers surmised that when people are uncertain about outcomes, it can make the situation seem more like a game than work.

Therefore, they said, managers can possibly use this information as an incentive to motivate workers.

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A Child Is Given Wrong Medication Every 8 Minutes, Study Finds


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study finds a child is given the wrong medication every eight minutes.

Researchers in Ohio studied reports over an 11-year period and found 700,000 medication errors in the United States.

The most common mistake was accidentally giving a child medicine more than once.

Henry Spiller, Director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital, says this is an easy mistake for parents to make.

"The mom goes into the room, gives the child a dose, comes out. Dad doesn't know, he also goes into the child and gives another dose and then later they find out that they've sort of overdosed their child," Spiller said. "When you're about to give out the medication, I know it's busy and everyone's fixing dinner and getting kids ready for bed and things, but try and take a moment to kind of put that bubble around you to not be distracted."

"This is something where the people who are caring for the children really really are interested in their best health, accidentally make these errors," Spiller added.

Spiller says 97% of the errors happened at home. The study also determined errors peak in the winter.

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Hearing-Impaired Kids Get Their Own Superhero


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For more than 35 years ear specialist and surgeon Dr. Ronald Hoffman has searched for new treatments and devices to help hearing-impaired children. But no matter how impressive the newest hearing aids or cochlear implants were, Hoffman said he's seen many children bullied for being different.

"One of the moms told us that her son had taken [his hearing aids] and buried them in the sand," Hoffman said.

As director of the Ear Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Hoffman said he is constantly looking for new ways to empower his patients, in addition to treating them.

This year Hoffman stumbled upon a slightly unusual way to educate the public and children about hearing loss.

Hoffman and the team at the Ear Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary along with the Children's Hearing Institute in New York were able to partner with a division of Marvel Comics to create a hearing-impaired superhero named Sapheara.

The comic book heroine sports cochlear implants and fights alongside Blue Ear, a fellow superhero with hearing aids.

"We wanted the pediatric patients to really revel in the experience of having a super hero all their own," said Melissa Willis, executive director of the Children's Hearing Institute in New York, which hosted the unveiling event.

The comics are designed to do more than just entertain; the story lines will educate children about devices used by the hearing impaired, including cochlear implants and hearing aids.

The comics will be given as part of educational material to children in the New York area and will reach approximately 150,000 children, according to New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai Hospital.

Hoffman said the goal of the comics was also to help decrease the stigma surrounding hearing-aids for children and to help stop bullying.

"We're very excited," Hoffman said, adding that he hoped the books could "enlighten children" and "promote tolerance and decrease bullying."

Hoffman said the disabled super hero will also help parents and children learn more about different options to handle all levels of hearing loss.

"It is crucial parents and children understand the facts about hearing impairment and the many viable treatment options available for patients," Hoffman said in a statement. "Having Sapheara as a resource for entertainment and education could help many more patients receive the evaluations and care they need to lead active and engaged lives."

Marvel Comics is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, which also owns ABC News.

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Men Often Get the Wrong Idea of a Woman with a Drink


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Austalia) -- Having a drink at a bar may say more about a woman than she would like, particularly if people get the wrong idea about her intentions.

Case in point: a study out of Deakin University School of Psychology in Melbourne, Australia, reveals that if a beer is placed next to a woman at a bar, the general consensus of men is that she's flirty and more willing to consent to having sex than a woman who is drinking alcohol.

Researchers had about 150 people view a video in which a man and woman were seen talking, with either a beer or a bottle of water next to the woman. The participants were also asked to perceive sexual intent.

As it happened, the men rated the woman with the beer more flirtatious, promiscuous, and seductive than the one with the water.

According to the study, men perceive alcohol as more of a gateway to having sex with a woman. The researchers said that her personality didn't factor into perceptions about whether the woman was interested in sex or not.

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Pentagon Orders 30-Member Ebola Response Team


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon has ordered that a 30-person military medical team be prepared to be put on standby to quickly assist the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with its Ebola response in the United States if needed.

The move followed a request to the Defense Department made Saturday by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon Press Secretary, said the move was "an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered U.S. Northern Command Command "to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States," Kirby said.

The team will be made up of personnel from various military services and include "20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious disease protocols."

They will be sent to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, for up to seven days of specialized training in infection control and personal protective equipment.

An official says the majority of the team will come from military bases in the San Antonio area, though Navy members of the team will come from other parts of the U.S.

The military is preparing to send as many as 4,000 personnel to Liberia to assist with that country's response to the Ebola outbreak, but those military personnel will not be involved in the care or treatment of Ebola infected patients.

That will not be the case with this new 30-person team of military health professionals, who will be directly involved in the care of Ebola patients if their services are requested.

The training of team members is expected to start as early as this week and will be provided by the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

After their training is complete they will return to their home units and remain in a "prepare to deploy" status for 30 days, where they could be sent anywhere in the United States if their services are required.

"They will not be sent to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals," Kirby said.

The U.S. official familiar with the request said that on Thursday an initial contact had been made to the Pentagon by the Centers for Disease Control about the possibility of military medical personnel helping out their efforts if needed.

HHS Secretary Sulvia Burwell made a formal written request of Hagel on Saturday. In the request, Burwell asked that the team be ready no later than Oct. 25 and that when ready it be prepared to augment HHS/CDC operations within 72 hours of notification.

According to the official, Burwell said that if needed the military personnel will not be requested to enforce quarantine measures in the United States.

Kirby said the preparation of the team is similar to how the Defense Department prepares for natural disasters.

"Secretary Hagel is committed to ensuring DoD is prepared to provide appropriate capabilities, as required, to support our government's response to this deadly disease" Kirby said. "He is extraordinarily proud of the skill and professionalism of our servicemen and women and of the unique capabilities they bring to bear in this important effort. As always, their safety and security will remain foremost on his mind."

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Cruise Ship Carrying Health Worker Monitored for Ebola Returns


iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- A cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who handled specimens of an Ebola-infected patient and is being monitored for symptoms of the virus arrived at the Port of Galveston in Texas Sunday.

The Carnival Magic reached the port about 5 a.m. The health care worker and her travel partner were allowed to disembark with restrictions, according to the Galveston County Health Department.

The health care worker had been self-quarantined on the ship and hasn't shown signs of the virus for 19 days, officials said.

On Saturday, a Coast Guard helicopter met the ship to collect a blood sample from the unidentified health care worker. She had departed from Galveston on Oct. 12 and was out of the country before being notified of active monitoring required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the State Department.

A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines told ABC News the blood test came back negative. According to the CDC, a test is only positive after symptoms develop, usually fever. It may take up to three days after symptoms appear for the virus to reach detectable levels.

"Given that this person was at apparently no risk of having an Ebola infection, I find the whole episode baffling," said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.

The worker did not have direct contact with patient Thomas Eric Duncan, but may have had contact with his clinical specimens, officials said. Duncan died Oct. 8 after becoming the first person on United States soil to be diagnosed with the virus.

The ship was refused clearance to dock in Cozumel, Mexico, on Friday. Belize also wouldn't allow the woman to leave the ship the day before.

All public areas ship will be sanitized before the ship departs again Sunday, CDC officials said.


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Since Duncan's diagnosis, two nurses involved in his treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, have tested positive for Ebola. Pham, 26, was flown to the National Institute of Health's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and Vinson, 29, was taken to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Barclay Berdan, the CEO of Texas Health Resources, apologized to the Dallas community for the hospital's handling of Duncan in a letter that appeared in the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram Sunday.

"I know that as an institution, we made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge," he wrote. "When we initially treated Mr. Duncan, we examined him thoroughly and performed numerous tests, but the fact that Mr. Duncan had traveled to Africa was not communicated effectively among the care team, though it was in his medical chart. On that visit to the Emergency Department, we did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. For this, we are deeply sorry."

Duncan went to the emergency room on Sept. 26. He was initially sent home with antibiotics, but returned two days later in an ambulance when his symptoms worsened. The hospital then put him in isolation.

"Although we had begun our Ebola preparedness activities, our training and education programs had not been fully deployed before the virus struck," wrote Berdan. "In short, despite our best intentions and skilled medical teams, we did not live up to the high standards that are the heart of our hospital's history, mission and commitment."

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Contacts of First Dallas Ebola Patient Count Down to All Clear


iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- All of the 48 people who had contact with the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States will no longer have to be monitored for the virus at the end of the day Sunday, the Dallas official spearheading the county response said.

Thomas Eric Duncan's fiancee Louise Troh and her family will have their active control order lifted at the end of the day, according to the Texas State Health Department.

"They will no longer need to stay home starting Monday," the statement said. "Someone will formally bring the release to them on Monday."

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins called this weekend a critical period in the response to Ebola after two nurses who were involved in the treatment of Thomas Eric Duncan contracted the disease.

He said it is "right in the middle of the hot zone" now for the health care workers who had contact with Duncan prior to his death on Oct. 8. Symptoms are most likely to begin to manifest within 8 to 10 days of exposure to Ebola.

One of the original 48 contacts with Duncan came off the list two days ago, and Jenkins said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release numbers of others who have come off the list in the last two days.

Of the 75 health care workers who are also being monitored, none are seeing patients at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the judge said.

Jenkins said it is a nervous time for so many of the people stuck in a very difficult situation.

"They frequently will have headaches and upset stomachs and other symptoms, and I would too if I were on that list," he said, adding that their symptoms forced officials to make sure they don't have Ebola.

They are free to come to the hospital to work in their offices and to visit the command center, but they are all furloughed and most of them are staying at home, Jenkins said.

Although as of Saturday morning 10 or 12 of the health care workers had not yet signed the agreement with the state to avoid public places and to not travel, Jenkins said all of them are complying with the state's requirements.

Texas Health Presbyterian became the first hospital in the nation to be faced with diagnosing Ebola on American soil when Duncan, a Liberian man visiting family in Dallas, went to the emergency room on Sept. 26. He was initially sent home with antibiotics, but returned two days later in an ambulance when his symptoms worsened. The hospital put Duncan in isolation. He died on Oct. 8.

Two nurses contracted Ebola from Duncan, though how exactly they were exposed hasn't been released. Nina Pham, 26, was diagnosed on Oct. 11, and Amber Vinson, 29, was diagnosed on Oct. 15, health officials said.

Texas Health Presbyterian cared for Pham in isolation for five days before requesting that she be moved to another facility. She was flown to an NIH facility in Bethesda, Maryland, on Oct. 16, and Vinson was flown to Emory University Hospital the day before.

Pham's boyfriend has been isolated and is being monitored, Jenkins said Saturday, though he offered no more details.

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Answers to the Ebola Questions You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  News that two nurses contracted Ebola in the United States has Americans on edge, but here are a few Ebola facts to calm your nerves.

"There are fundamental things we do know about Ebola and it's those things that can make most people in America rest very well at night that they don’t have a risk of contracting this disease," said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser during ABC News' Ebola town hall event on Friday.

When Does Ebola Become Contagious?

Ebola is contagious when someone is symptomatic, Besser said. A fever is the first symptom of Ebola, which means the virus is beginning to multiply in the patient’s blood when a fever sets in.

As an Ebola patient gets sicker and sicker, the amount of virus in his or her blood multiplies, making them even more contagious.

How Is Ebola Spread?

Ebola is spread through close contact with an infected person, and it’s not airborne, Besser said.

"We also know from the studies in Africa that it’s a hard disease to get," Besser said. "If this disease was spread through the air or was spread easily -- that you could get it from someone you're standing next to in the market or sitting next to on a plane -- this outbreak would be far larger than it is today."

People who contract Ebola usually do so because they've cared for someone who was infected in a hospital setting or at home, Besser noted, or they've touched the body of a person who died of Ebola.

Can It Become Airborne?

"The majority of scientists say that while it's possible, it's highly unlikely," Besser said, explaining that the virus would have to mutate significantly.

What If Someone With Ebola Sneezes on Me?


Sneezing is not a symptom of Ebola, Besser said. Neither is coughing until the very late stages of the disease, when the person is clearly sick and near death. On top of that, the disease is not airborne.

Can I Get Ebola From Someone's Sweat?

There's very little data on how much of the virus is in a sick person’s sweat, Besser said.

He added that carrying a person who is sick with Ebola can be a "risky situation." He said one man who had Ebola on a plane didn't spread it to fellow passengers but inadvertently gave it to the people who helped carry him once he got off the plane.

"Touching the skin -- whether he had other body fluids or sweat on his skin at that point -- was a risk," Besser said.

What If I Stand Next to Someone With Ebola on a Subway?

You probably won't catch it in that situation, said Dr. Jay Varma, New York City's deputy commissioner for disease control.

"Casual contact like you would have somebody pass you on the bus or on the subway, I'm not worried about it for myself and I'm not worried about it for my wife and kids," Varma said.

How Long Can the Virus Survive on Surfaces Like Tabletops and Doorknobs?

"This is one of these areas where we don't really know enough," Varma said. "We do know that these viruses can survive on surfaces for a few hours."

He said how long it can survive depends on the surface and the environment.

Should You Take Precautions Before Taking Public Transportation?

"We think this is not a disease that you can get from simply being next to somebody," Varma said. "Absolutely if somebody vomits on you or you get their body fluids on it, of course you can be at risk, but we think that airplane travel, traveling on subways -- all of that -- is the type of contact where this is not a disease that's transmitted."

He said he's more worried about getting the flu on public transportation than Ebola.

Is There a Vaccine Coming?

There are two vaccines being tested in clinical trials now, Besser said.

"There's a lot of efforts underway to try and move a vaccine forward but vaccine development takes a long time," he said, adding that one of the companies working on one has said it won't know whether it works until 2015.

Even if it does work, it will take more time to manufacture.

What About Other Drugs?

Ebola patients in the United States are receiving experimental drugs, but it's not yet clear whether they've helped, hurt or made no difference in those patients’ outcomes, Besser said.

Why Don't We Just Close Our Borders to West Africa?


Keeping people from leaving the Ebola-affected countries would be a "major mistake," Besser said, noting that he saw aid workers, journalists and family members aboard his plane on his two trips to Liberia in the last few months, and that letting them in and out is important.

"You want to make sure that people who leave that area are being monitored and doing it safely," he said. "You want to encourage people to go there who have expertise and can help these governments, these health workers, control this disease. That will save lives there and will also improve the health and protection of Americans right here."

Varma said the biggest concern in America should be containing the outbreak in Africa. Until that happens, he said "we will always be at risk."

"You can't just wrap a wall around these countries and not expect people to get out," he said.

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Ebola Scare Turns Dallas Hospital Into a 'Ghost Town'


iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- The Dallas nurses who contracted Ebola while treating a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital have been moved from the building, but patients are still steering clear of the once-bustling hospital.

People have called to cancel outpatient procedures, and some have even opted not to go to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in emergency situations, ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA reports.

"It feels like a ghost town," Rachelle Cohorn, a local health care vendor who has been to the hospital recently, told WFAA. "No one is even walking around the hospital."

Texas Health Presbyterian's average emergency room wait time had been 52 minutes, according to federal hospital data. But when ABC News called the hospital and asked the emergency department for the ER wait time today, the response was that there was no wait time.

The hospital has also taken public relations hits on a number of fronts. It was revealed that Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was initially sent home from the ER even though he told staff there that he had recently come from West Africa, the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak. And this week, another health care worker who took care Duncan criticized the hospital administration for not providing proper training and equipment to nurses caring for Duncan.

To weather the storm, the hospital will need to convince people that Texas Health Presbyterian is still a safe hospital, said Dr. Dan Varga, the chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, which owns the Dallas hospital.

"I would tell this community that Presby is an absolutely safe hospital to come to," Varga told ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser on Thursday. "We've been in communication with our doctors that have their private offices in our professional buildings around the campus who are getting 40, 50, 60 percent cancellations just for fear of being somewhere in the geography of the hospital where Ebola is treated."

Texas Health Presbyterian became the first hospital in the nation to be faced with diagnosing Ebola on American soil when Duncan, a Liberian man visiting family in Dallas, went to the emergency room on Sept. 26. He was initially sent home with antibiotics, but returned two days later in an ambulance when his symptoms worsened. The hospital put Duncan in isolation. He died on Oct. 8.

Two nurses contracted Ebola from Duncan, though how exactly they were exposed remains unknown. Nina Pham, 26, was diagnosed on Oct. 11, and Amber Vinson, 29, was diagnosed on Oct. 15, health officials said.

Texas Health Presbyterian cared for Pham in isolation for five days before requesting that she be moved to another facility. She was flown to an NIH facility in Bethesda, Maryland, on Oct. 16, and Vinson was flown to Emory University Hospital the day before.

Varga told Congress on Oct. 16 that the hospital staff was never trained to handle a patient with Ebola. He said they received guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July but never received any face-to-face training.

About 70 staff members are being monitored after possible exposure to the Ebola virus.

"Over the long haul is the emotional toll going to be something that leaves a mark?" Varga asked. "We have a bunch of employees on surveillance now because they had contact with Mr. Duncan, with Nina, with Amber."

Alex Normington, who works for a national firm that helps hospitals establish their reputations, told WFAA that Texas Health Presbyterian has had a "very good" reputation since it opened in 1966.

"A hospital's reputation can take years or generations to build," Normington said.

Federal and state hospital records also show that Texas Health Presbyterian had two violations over the last five years: one for a nurse who failed to turn a patient over every two hours and another for failing to appropriately address a patient's complaint.

Molly Cate, a partner with the health care communication and public affairs firm Jarrard, Cate and Hancock, which works with hospitals across the country, said the violations did not appear to be out of the ordinary.

"Two in five years is not a huge amount," said Cate. "Health care is very regulated industry. Hospitals are inspected regularly, for hundreds and thousands of things every year."

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College Student in San Diego on Life Support After Suffering from Meningitis


iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A San Diego State University student is on life support after suffering from meningitis.

Sara Stelzer, 18, was hospitalized Tuesday, thinking she had the flu. She is not expected to recover.

Just before she felt sick, Stelzer returned home to Moorpark, Calif. for her high school's homecoming.

Health officials believe those at most risk of contracting the bacterial infection are people Stelzer came in close contact with in San Diego, where she became deathly ill.

Dr. Gregg Lichtenstein of San Diego State University student health services says symptoms include fever, intense headache, neck stiffness, and lethargy. "Also when it gets into your bloodstream, it can result in a rash that kind of looks like little bruises that get bigger and bigger," Lichtenstein said.

Parent Cindy Lilly is concerned her own daughter may be at risk.

"My daughter knew her, and we have talked about meningitis and kind of how you can contract it, so it is a big concern for us," Lilly said.

Miranda Lipson, a friend of Stelzer, is in disbelief.

"Friends I know, if one of us got it, we would all get it, but I think people are here are smart enough not to let it spread around," Lipson said. "I hope she's in a good place right now and I hope that she rests in peace."

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