Officials work to ease public panic as Ebola arrives in the United States

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By Tanae Howard

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 1, 2014)-- Following the announcement the first confirmed case of Ebola was diagnosed in the U.S., health officials worked to debunk myths and ease public panic.

"My reaction as far as what do you do to get rid of it? I don't want it to spread to me," said Indianapolis resident Jonathan Friedel.

Many people are under the false impression the Ebola virus can spread like the flu.

Dr. Christopher Belcher, an infectious disease specialist at St. Vincent, said that is far from the case.

"You really have to be up close with the secretions. Right in the face contact with the person," said Dr. Belcher. "That's why its really a disease that either spreads within the family members or patients to healthcare workers but it's not something you ever catch walking down the street."

You cannot get it through food or water either. Even if you come in contact with someone that has Ebola you have to exchange bodily fluids like saliva, blood or mucus and the person has to already be noticeably ill.

"It's not spread until the person has symptoms so although it may take a while to develop symptoms someone who's feeling well, looking well and traveling is unlikely to spread it at that time," said Dr. Belcher.

At this point, he said the only people in the U.S. at risk are those who have traveled to Western Africa or have come in contact with someone with the illness.