An Ebola warning sign in Africa. Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control
An Ebola warning sign in Africa. Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control

A group of San Diego physicians met this week to discuss logistical issues in case someone were to carry the deadly Ebola virus to the region.

Dr. Gonzalo Ballon-Landa, chairman of the county Medical Society’s GERM Commission, said Friday this is a highly unlikely scenario, but local physicians wanted to make sure they know where to send laboratory tests, who to inform and similar matters should they get a patient with the disease.

Two Americans who contracted Ebola while helping victims of the disease in Liberia are scheduled to arrive at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta in coming days. It’s believed to be the first time the virus will appear in the United States. The disease has killed more than 700 people recently in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Ballon-Landa stressed that the chances of Ebola reaching San Diego are remote.

“You’d have to have a traveler who’d been there, whose been exposed and winds up in San Diego,” Ballon-Landa said. “It is a possibility, but it is not a likely possibility.”

Ebola is spread via blood or other bodily fluids, “so it’s pretty hard to get,” the infectious disease specialist said.

He stressed that local medical facilities were capable of caring for an Ebola patient and preventing further transmission of the virus.

Doctors at the GERM — Group to Eradicate Resistant Microorganisms — Commission meeting were concerned that the media would cause undue worry among local residents, according to Ballon-Landa.

A far bigger issue in San Diego, he said, is the spiraling number of cases of pertussis, which are already close to the recent record set in 2010 with five months left in the year. The disease that’s also known as “whooping cough” is fatal for infants, and not enough people are getting vaccinated, he said.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.