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Viennese doctor downplays risk of Ebola

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Viennese doctor downplays risk of Ebola
Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit. Photo: US Army
12:19 CEST+02:00
An Austrian doctor believes that there is little chance of cases of Ebola appearing in this country, according to a report on Tuesday from the Austrian Press Agency.

Due to the very low amount of travel between Sierra Leone or Liberia to the Central European region, Viennese specialist Dr Herwig Kollaritsch believes that the risk of Austrians coming into contact with the disease are negligible.

"In 30 years as a specialist in travel and tropical medicine, I have never treated a tourist who had been in Liberia or Sierra Leone," he said.

Dr Kollaritsch is Professor of Tropical Medicine at the Institute for Specific Prophylaxis and Tropical Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna.

There are several reasons for this.
 
"Sierra Leone has long been known as a war-torn country. This was a no-go area for tourists", the tropical and travel doctor said.
 
"The same would have been true for many years for Liberia.  Also, the West African countries that are currently affected by the Ebola outbreak are by no means rich in tourist attractions."
 
Direct flights between Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea do not exist.  Travellers returning from those countries tend to be members of aid organizations, government officials and a few business travellers, who are all well-informed of the risks.
 
Ebola cases are not limited to those countries, as some European citizens have already been brought back to Europe for treatment.  For example, a 75-year-old Spanish priest with the disease will be flown into Madrid on Wednesday, for treatment at La Paz hospital. 
 
Germany is also well prepared for potential cases, with Hamburg's university clinic establishing a bio-secure unit for treatment.
 
Danish officials also believe that the risk of contact with the disease is negligible.
 
As the epidemic spreads, political considerations will most likely drive policy, with Italy's far-right parties calling for all African migrants to be quarantined and screened for the disease.
 
In general, informed opinion suggests that Europeans are far more at risk from a more familiar disease than they are from Ebola.
 
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