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Concern About Ebola Is High, But No Cases In Westchester, Astorino Says

County Executive Rob Astorino flanked by Dr. Ada Huang, left, and Dr. Cheryl Archbald, deputy commissioners in the Health Department.
County Executive Rob Astorino flanked by Dr. Ada Huang, left, and Dr. Cheryl Archbald, deputy commissioners in the Health Department. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Concern about Ebola is spreading fast throughout the nation.

Westchester County got its first scare on Wednesday after the news broke late in the morning that an unidentified Westchester resident was being monitored for possible symptoms of the disease.

County Executive Rob Astorino said at an early afternoon press conference that the county Health Department has received 11 inquiries about Ebola-like symptoms since August. None has turned out to be Ebola.

The latest case involved a man with symptoms who arrived at a undisclosed Westchester hospital Tuesday.

Astorino said the patient was put into isolation about 9 p.m. because he thought he had been in contact with someone who traveled to West Africa.

"The risk is extremely low,'' Astorino said. "In this case, this person did not travel to one of the affected countries."

Dr. Ada Huang, a deputy health commissioner who specializes in infectious diseases, said, "There has been no spread of Ebola in the U.S."

However, the recent tests of disease reporting protocol and hospital procedures has been good, Huang said. "It does increase all of our levels of confidence,'' she said. "Everything worked like it was supposed to work. I think the system right now is working.''

Much more common and contagious than Ebola, officials say, has been the spread of enterovirus D68 also known as EV-D68. It recently killed a 4-year-old in New Jersey and a 10-year-old in Rhode Island.

While EV-D68 is more virulent and harder on the human body, "it's no more infectious than the common cold,'' according to Dr. Erik Larsen, associate director of emergency medicine at White Plains Hospital.

Washing hands thoroughly with soap, not coughing on others and trying not to rub one's eyes prevents the spread of EV-D68 and other viruses, Larsen said.

All viral diseases present themselves the same way: the patient feels lousy and may be coughing, nauseous, aching and possibly vomiting.

"From the common cold to the flu, you often start out like that,'' Larsen said.

After its onset, it's very important for patients to drink plenty of clear fluids, Larsen said, or their condition can deteriorate.

"People are coming down with the flu and they're getting very concerned,'' Astorino told reporters.

"Upon review none of the individuals had any risk factors, exposures or indicators that would even warrant testing for Ebola,'' Astorino said. "Most of the cases have involved people returning from trips and not feeling well. But again, after review, they have not involved Ebola."

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