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Health Director Tackles Ebola Facts, Fiction

Megan Milanese
Credit Megan Milanese

Hillsborough County's Health Department director is going of the offensive to combat fears about Ebola.

Douglas Holt said that concerns have grown since two health care workers in Texas tested positive for the disease after treating a man who died from it. 

But the real threats to U.S. safety in regard to Ebola are fear and panic, he said. The key to controlling the outbreak is early identification, isolation, and identification."This is really like a brush fire. It starts small with a spark or an ember and if you can put that out it doesn't spread,” Holt said.  “So the whole idea for us while Africa is generating these embers is to identify it early and snuff it out."

In an effort to stop the spread of misinformation, Holt held a "Fact, Fiction, and Fear" lecture at the University of South Florida Thursday. He said Ebola is not an extremely transmittable disease and transmission can only occur when infected people are highly symptomatic. 

He said Ebola can only be spread through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person, not through the air – and he provided some pretty explicit reminders to that effect. 

“So advice: Avoid the spray, live another day. Only touched by air, no need to care. Where it splatters, that’s where it matters,” he said. 

“And the one that I love is: If it’s wet and not yours, don’t touch it.”

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Megan Milanese is an intern with WUSF’s health reporting project Health News Florida.