What the first outbreak of Ebola taught us

TOPEKA (KSNT) – One Kansas State University researcher has had direct experience with the Ebola virus.

The pictures of the Ebola outbreak now spreading through Africa can be shocking and for some terrifying. Already 3 Americans working there have contracted the virus and have been brought back to the united states for treatment. But many forget the US’ first experience with Ebola in 1989 in Reston, VA.

“It turned out that this particular, that it was a brand new strand of Ebola and has been named Ebola Reston and is the only Ebola strain that’s not pathogenic to humans,” KSU Assoc. VP for Research and Compliance Jerry Jaax says.

Jaax was a key player in that 1989 event which affected monkeys. Speaking on Friday at Washburn University, Jaax shared what he and the medical community learned from the experience. He says what most americans fear is someone they know has the virus but isn’t showing any symptoms. Jaax says unless you come into contact with someone from an affected part of africa that’s unlikely. He also says American medical procedures and safety measures can help prevent spreading ebola. But most importantly, the Virginia incident was a learning experience.

“It was a really good lesson for what we might, what might work and not work associated with an outbreak like this,” Jaax says.

He says meetings like this helps spread awareness of the health risks of the virus.

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