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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Ebola Outbreak: What Do You Tell Friends?

Published July 29, 2014 2:43 PM by Glen McDaniel

The most recent Ebola Virus outbreak has made the national news. This highly contagious virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus causes a hemorrhagic illness that approaches 90 percent mortality.


This latest episode in West Africa has claimed the lives of over 600 people, but has made the news largely because it is the worst-ever outbreak in history and two Americans have been infected.


Friends have been asking me: What is Ebola exactly? Why is it so deadly? How is it spread? Are we at risk here in the USA?

While not an expert in virology or epidemiology, I take that imposed educational role seriously. I keep up to date as a scientist, interested in disease and health. I give basic, factual information when asked and then refer friends to credible sources like the CDC website. I also vet popular news sites and endorse links that give current updates, explain Ebola, summarize aspects of epidemiology, and discuss risk in a sober yet non-alarmist way.

I am curious: what role do you think medical laboratorians should play in educating friends and family? What do you do?  Are you less interested if the “disease du jour” is affecting only unknown people from faraway places and poses little risk to the US?


American patients infected with Ebola are being transported to Atlanta's Emory Hospital. They will be cared for in Emory's special isolation unit. Emory has one of only four such containment units in the country. This unit has been used in the past to take care of SARS patients.

Glen McDaniel August 2, 2014 1:06 PM

I play the role of the medical person in my family and to many friends who are not in the medical field.%0d%0a%0d%0aI speak confidently on all matters microbiology which includes infections and many epidemics. However over the years I have become so specialized that I am not so current with areas like Hematology, Blood Banking and even Chemistry. %0d%0a%0d%0aI say that for 2 reasons. First I will not attempt to speak authoritatively on subjects I don't know about and secondly I ask my other laboratory colleagues for their ideas because  I respect them and know they are as  much an expert in their field as I am.%0d%0a%0d%0aI totally have an interest in all matters micro because it is fascinating to me: the cause, the transmission and how it is eventually contained. I have no shyness about discussing these matters with colleagues, family and friends.

Monet MT(ASCP) SM (ASCP), Microbiologist July 29, 2014 10:55 PM
Chicago IL

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