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Ebola Case in Austin Unlikely, But Officials Say City's Prepared

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Veronica Zaragovia/KUT
Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Director Ernesto Rodriguez speaks at a press conference on Oct. 1, 2014.

Austin officials say the city has a plan to address any cases of Ebola, now that the first confirmed case in the U.S. is up the road in Dallas.

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services says it's been ready since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa began.

"It’s important to remember that an actual case coming here is relatively low risk at this point," says EMS Director Ernesto Rodriguez, who adds that the ambulances are regularly disinfected.

"Patients are only infectious when they have symptoms," says Paul Hinchey, the medical director of Austin-Travis County EMS. "So our key element is looking for people with symptoms to identify and flag them."

Symptoms include high fever, muscle and joint pain, headaches, nausea and abdominal pain. Staff members then ask the key question: Where has the patient traveled to recently?

Officials say if they go into a home wearing gowns and masks, it’s not a cause for panic. It's just part of the precaution and prevention routine.

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