GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Where have you traveled lately? With the United States now having its first confirmed case of Ebola, South Mississippi emergency workers said they'll be asking patients showing flu-like symptoms about their recent travel history.
A relative of Thomas Duncan said he is visiting the US from Liberia, a country where an Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people. Duncan is currently being kept isolated at a Dallas hospital. Meanwhile, South Mississippi hospital personnel are keeping a close eye on what's happening with the deadly virus here in our country.
When people come into the Garden Park Medical Center emergency room, nurses and doctors have to ask patients a lot of questions to determine the right diagnosis. In early stages, medical officials say the potentially deadly virus Ebola is indistinguishable from the flu.
"You're going to have possibly any kind of upper respiratory," said Jenny Duncan, registered nurse. "Nausea, vomiting. You're going to have body aches. Very similar to flu-like symptoms."
Garden Park officials say with concerns about Ebola, it's important medical professionals dig a little deeper and ask patients not only about how they're feeling, but also about countries they've recently visited.
"Not everybody, I think, in every country follows the same protocols that we follow in the United States," said Duncan. "Therefore, they go to another country and others may not be immunized or they have other things going on in the country like certain diseases, such as Ebola, that they come in contact with. They may not see signs or symptoms for several days to several weeks. Then that's the problem. They may be back in the United States for a week or few days and then they start feeling those flu type symptoms that brings them ultimately to the emergency department."
Garden Park officials said they're watching for every report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Ebola.
"We stay current on everything is coming out. We stay knowledgeable about the things that are going on in the United States, whether it's close by, or far away. Of course, Texas is not that far away from us, so everyone is making sure they're keeping an eye on the current things that are going on here in the United States," said Duncan.
A doctor at a Dallas hospital confirms when the patient came to the hospital the first time last Friday, a nurse asked him if he'd been to an area affected by the Ebola outbreak. However that information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team and the man was sent home. He was rushed to the hospital by ambulance two days later.