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Despite Fears, Kansas City Area Remains Ebola-Free

Contrary to rumors on the Internet over the last few days, health providers and officials say there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Kansas City.

A spokesperson with HCA Midwest says that a man rushed to Research Medical Center’s Brookside campus over the weekend did not have the disease.

Hospital officials declined to disclose his diagnosis but say he is responding well to treatment.

About a month ago, a man who had returned home after serving with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone called the University of Kansas Hospital, worried that he had contracted Ebola. Tests, however, showed the 23-year-old man had a severe case of malaria.

In Omaha, a three-hour drive from Kansas City, two Americans diagnosed with Ebola have been brought to The Nebraska Medical Center for treatment. The hospital houses the largest of four high-level bio-containment patient care units in the United States.

The first patient brought to Omaha, Dr. Richard Sacra, was discharged on Sept. 25 after being treated with an experimental drug and drug transfusions from a patient who survived Ebola.

Officials with the Kansas City, Mo., Health Department said on Monday that the department had ruled out the presence of Ebola in Kansas City.

"If or when a case of Ebola actually is found in Kansas City, we are prepared," Dr. Rex Archer, director of the department, said in a statement Monday. "Health Departments, hospitals, emergency responders and other community partners are constantly reviewing and improving our plans and practices to make sure that we protect the health of the public."

Ebola is not an airborne disease. It is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids.

As of Monday, six Americans had been diagnosed with Ebola, although none were infected in this country. One died in Nigeria; the rest were or are being treated in the United States.

Heart to Heart International, a relief organization based in Lenexa, Kan., announced today that it plans to open a 70-bed Ebola treatment unit in Liberia.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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