Health officials prepare for off chance of local Ebola Virus infection

LYNDON-No cases of Ebola Virus Disease have been diagnosed in Kansas, but the Osage County Health Department and Osage County Emergency Management continue to actively monitor the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Kansas Department of Health and Environment for the latest updates and response plans.

To date, there have been four cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) diagnosed in the United States, with one person dying from the disease. While EVD is a serious illness and potentially fatal, there is not a risk of contracting the disease unless there is direct contact with blood or secretions of an infected person, or exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions. Ebola is not transmitted from person to person through air, water or food.

According to Kansas Department of Health and Environment, sustained transmission of EVD in Kansas or in the United States is highly unlikely. Travel to West Africa or providing healthcare to someone infected with the virus would place Kansans at higher risk of contracting the disease. The best way to control the spread is through early diagnosis and prompt notification of public health officials for contact tracing and symptom monitoring.

“Ebola is not contagious until the person has symptoms, so we would begin identifying contacts that were in direct contact with the case when they began to exhibit symptoms,” said Anne Gray, Osage County Health Department administrator and county health officer.

There is currently no vaccine or approved medication to treat Ebola. Medical care offered to treat Ebola is only supportive.

The county health department and emergency management department have been keeping abreast of the latest response procedures.

“We have protocols on disease reporting that activate immediate notification of public health; we will activate our response protocols in coordination with the state of Kansas if a case occurs in Osage County,” Gray said. “The threat of Ebola is serious and taken seriously by public health. The reality is our residents are more likely to contract influenza, which spreads much easier and causes an average of 36,000 deaths in the United States every year.”

Ebola is a viral disease with symptoms of fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, and loss of appetite. Some patients may also experience a rash, red eyes, hiccup, cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, and bleeding inside and outside of the body.

Precautionary measures to prevent EVD include limiting contact with infected people, items such as hypodermic needles, and body fluid. These precautions are particularly important regarding healthcare workers and family members providing direct care to anyone infected, as well as those providing health care in West Africa or infected countries.

For more information about Ebola, see CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov. For more information about local response, contact Gray at the health department, 785-828-3117, or 103 E. Ninth St., Lyndon.

 

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