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Hospitals brace for patients with Ebola worries

10/2/2014

CBS News
By Alexander Trowbridge

Despite efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reassure Americans, health experts and hospitals around the country are preparing for a potential flood of Ebola-panicked patients scared that their common cold or fever might be the deadly infection.

"It's a common phenomenon that we see: Whatever's on the news, we're likely to see in the ER, in terms of people worried that they have it," said Dr. Michelle Barron, an infectious disease specialist at University of Colorado Hospital in Denver. "It's just a natural concern that individuals have - 'Oh my goodness, I could have that.'"

On Tuesday, the CDC confirmed the first case of Ebola virus diagnosed in the United States. The patient, identified by CBS Dallas station KTVT as Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, had recently flown to Dallas from Liberia to visit family. On Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said on "CBS This Morning" that his agency would stop Ebola "in its tracks" in part because of the strength of the U.S. public health system.

But the diagnosis coincides with the kickoff of flu season, a time when emergency rooms are already pushed to capacity. And since initial Ebola virus symptoms appear similar to those of the flu, health experts believe, news of the diagnosis may add to overcrowding.

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