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UCSF Ebola Expert: Ebola Is Not As Infectious As Influenza, Tuberculosis, Measles And Other Airborne Diseases

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) -- Amid questions and concerns over the recent cases of the deadly Ebola virus in the United States, KPIX 5's interview with Dr. Charles Chiu, an expert on infectious diseases at University of California at San Francisco may provide answers. Here is a transcript of that interview:

My name is Dr. Charles Chiu. I'm a Professor in Laboratory Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ebola is a very severe disease in the category of infections called viral hemorrhagic fevers.

It is not known for sure where Ebolas come from. Most likely it comes from exposure to an animal, like the fruit bat.

When you get infected it begins with influenza-like symptoms – fever, headache ,nausea, muscle aches – but can rapidly develop into internal and external bleeding. Because these patients lose so much fluid and blood, it is life-threatening, and kills 90% of its victims.


Ebola is not transmitted through the air. There has to be close contact with bodily fluids of a person who has Ebola. Prior to developing symptoms, Ebola is not infectious. Patients need to be symptomatic to infect others. Unlike influenza, where you can have no symptoms and be infectious, Ebola is not as highly contagious. It's not like tuberculosis, influenza or measles, and other airborne diseases. It requires close contact with infected bodily fluids from another individual.

We should have a lot of confidence in our current health care system. All hospitals have measures to prevent spread. Because Ebola is not transmissible and infectious like influenza, I think it's very unlikely you are going to see sustained transmission of secondary cases here in the United States.

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