ebola-hospitalsFederal health-care officials, hospital administrators and emergency-care doctors are preparing for the first cases of Ebola here in the United States. Experts say it’s not a question of if, but rather when it will happen. The good news is that the public health infrastructure in the United States — from the epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control to the weekend physician at the local doc-in-a-box — has been mobilized for this very eventuality. Many hospitals, even those in many rural areas, are prepared with virus-proof protective gear and isolation units for sick patients. The bad news is that the disease continues to grow unabated in West Africa, and that containing the spread is getting tougher every day. “We will see cases,” said Alessandro Vespignani, a physics professor at Northeastern University who has developed a biological model of the worldwide spread of Ebola based on current infection rates, population trends and air traffic from the affected zone. “The good news from our modeling is the size of the outbreak is very limited. Even in the worse case, the size of the outbreak in the United States is just two or three individuals.” Vespignani’s model estimates probability of an infected Ebola patient — not an infected health care worker — showing up on a given day currently in the United States at 3 or 4 percent. That number jumps to 20 percent by the end of October. More