Calming Ebola fears with facts

As paranoia about Ebola has grown, North Texans needed a medical expert they could depend on for accurate and useful information about the deadly virus.

They found one in Dr. Darrin D’Agostino.

The Chair of Internal Medicine at UNT Health Science Center became a fixture on North Texas news outlets – including multiple appearances on KTVT (Channel 11) and interviews on WFAA (Channel 8) and KDFW (Channel 4), and in the Star Telegram. He discussed public health challenges and new Ebola-related developments, and answered questions from the anxious public in his calm, professional manner.

"We had never before experienced Ebola on U.S. soil, so people’s fear was genuine," said Dr. D’Agostino, DO, MPH. "The best way, I believe, to help people overcome that fear was to give them a clear, factual understanding of the disease and how our public health system intended to stop it."

Dr. D’Agostino’s background in public health positioned him to serve as an authority during the North Texas Ebola crisis. While earning his Master of Public Health degree, he participated in outbreak surveillance projects and FBI-sponsored bioterrorism training. He studied many naturally occurring and man-made infections, and Ebola proved to be a great example of how public health initiatives can control the spread of a deadly disease and save lives.

The recent Ebola infections taught medical providers several valuable lessons, including the importance of swift initial reactions to suspected infections and the necessity of strict adherence to guidelines and recommendations, Dr. D’Agostino said.

At UNT Health, for example, medical leaders have tightened protocols so that patients with suspected infectious diseases, like influenza, are more rapidly triaged and isolated.

"The good news is that what occurred in Dallas is going to help us all better prepare for infectious disease in the future," D’Agostino said.

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