Thousands of people have died from Ebola recently in Western Africa, due in large part to ignorance over the disease. While there is no threat from Ebola in Westford, the town Health Department aimed to fight that ignorance locally with a presentation at the Blanchard School on Tuesday night.
Morgan Gilmore of Lowell General Hospital spoke to a crowd of mostly nurses and paramedics, giving details over what Ebola is and how to it is treated.
According to Morgan Gilmore, something as simple as hand sanitizer can kill Ebola outside the human body, and people are only susceptible to catching the disease from bodily fluids of those already infected.
The presentation provided a variety of information on the Ebola, including some lesser known facts such as dogs not being susceptible to infection.
Although Ebola has been a hot topic in the news lately, and all viruses can spread quickly due to the relative ease in global travel, Gilmore says it is far less of a threat to Westford compared with other illnesses.
While the possibility of an Ebola outbreak in Westford and the surrounding area is nearly non-existent, he says that American hospitals are ready to treat the illness if there are outbreaks.
“I know Ebola is concerning and it’s interesting, but here we’re entering flu season,” said Gilmore. “I would say that nothing is outside the realm of possibility, the chances we’ll see it are extremely slight in Massachusetts, never mind Westford.”
Arlene Sullivan, a local nurse who attended the talk, was more interested in information provided on Enterovirus, a disease similar to Polio.
Like Gilmore, Sullivan was also not concerned with the Ebola virus potentially impacting her patients.
“It’s not that scary to me because I’m not working at a hospital,” said Sullivan. “(and) I don’t think this geographical area is at risk.”
In addition to other information provided on more common diseases like the flu, Gilmore emphasized the importance of hand washing in disrupting the cycle of illness transmission, stating that hand sanitizer actually kills Ebola bacteria.
According to his presentation, if everyone washed their hands around the world, over a million lives could be saved each year.
More information on Health Department programs is available at the town website.