Former Health Commissioner: Ebola Epidemic at Home Extremely Unlikely

October 24, 2014 | Health Care
Dr. DiFerdinando says an Ebola epidemic like West Africa is extremely unlikely to occur in the U.S.

Following Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s joint press conference on Ebola, former New Jersey Deputy Health Commissioner and Rutgers School of Public Health Professor of Epidemiology Dr. George DiFerdinando told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that an epidemic like West Africa is extremely unlikely to occur in the United States.

In regards to the necessity of Ebola screenings, Dr. DiFerdinando said, “Clearly the issue of where the line is between isolation quarantine and personal monitoring has been on all of our minds, and now the governors of New York and New Jersey have acted and will have to really quickly get to a national policy on this.”

“I think it’s important to look at the difference between individual cases, which is what we’ve had and how we want to define an epidemic. An epidemic like West Africa is extremely unlikely. We are seeing already, that the health care workers who have become ill are getting better and have not spread the illness, but if our society will not tolerate individual cases, some other people would call that an outbreak. So really, this is what we’re debating right now: How many cases can we tolerate, how much risk can we tolerate, and bluntly, how much cost in both people’s time and frankly, money are we willing to spend to purchase that level of risk?” Dr. DiFerdinando said.

When asked what precautions citizens should take, Dr. DiFerdinando echoed Mayor Bill DeBlasio, saying: “The first thing individuals should do right now is get a flu shot, because flu is often mistaken in its earlier stages for Ebola and we might be in a situation where people develop influenza and in fact fear that they’ve got Ebola. So an action that you can take is protecting yourself that way.”