FDA seeks to dispel Ebola outbreak fears

The Food and Drug Administration has posted a Web page with quick facts about the Ebola virus and the outbreak in West Africa in order to fight misconceptions about the disease permeating the general public.

“Currently, there are no FDA-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat Ebola,” the FDA says on its page. “Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public.”

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The FDA plans to update the page with its ongoing assessments of the disease and has provided information for the public to report fake Ebola drugs and vaccines, which have been a major concern for the agency.

While health officials have repeatedly said there is virtually no risk of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S., 4 in 10 people are concerned there will be a large outbreak, and a quarter of people are worried they or a loved one will be infected within the next year according to a new survey by Harvard University.

So far, at least 1,350 people have died in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria in the worst Ebola outbreak in history. However, health officials note the virus only transfers through bodily fluids and is nowhere near as contagious as the common flu.

They have also said the U.S. healthcare system is far better equipped to treat and contain the virus than those of poorer countries in West Africa.

On Thursday, two American missionaries who had contracted Ebola in Liberia and were flown back to be treated in an isolation ward at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta were discharged.

Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol’s doctors said they posed no public health risk, and their bodies are free of the virus.

Commentators like Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, criticized the decision to bring the missionaries back for treatment for raising fears it could lead to an outbreak on U.S. soil. However, Bruce Ribner, lead physician who treated the missionaries said it was the right decision.

“Limited knowledge of the Ebola virus, especially in our country, has created understandable anxiety and fear for some persons,” Ribner said during a Thursday press conference. “We understand there are a lot of questions and concerns regarding the Ebola virus and the infection that it causes. However, we can not let our fears dictate out actions.”