Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

Risk of Ebola low, yet county preps

 


Although the risk of the spread of Ebola to Minnesota continues to remain low, Carlton County Public Health and Human Services has taken measures to prepare for potential Ebola cases by updating the county’s isolation and quarantine plan. Partners within that plan include hospitals, clinics, Fond du Lac Human Services Division, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office.

Each organization is preparing with equipment (for example, Personal Protective Equipment or PPE), and education for their staff and communities.

Local hospitals are equipped with the appropriate PPE, have isolation capabilities for infectious patience, and are providing ongoing training for staff.

Carlton County has staff on call 24/7 for any alerts from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and will provide unified messaging with partners. Staff is keeping up to date with the most current information provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and MDH Infection Control.

The Minnesota Department of Health has set up a public information line for any questions regarding Ebola. The phone numbers are (651) 201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking states to begin active monitoring of all travelers returning from the three affected West African countries beginning Monday. Symptom monitoring will occur for 21 days and includes twice daily temperature checks. The new policy does not reflect a change in the science. Persons who do not have symptoms are not infectious.

Note: The 21-day monitoring of community contacts of the first Ebola patient in Dallas ended on October 20, with no cases. Monitoring is ongoing for hospital exposures.

General information

Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to stop or limit the spread of disease. Isolation and quarantine are used to protect the public by preventing exposure to infected persons or to persons who may be infected. This is initiated by the MDH and only used to monitor and limit infection outbreak.

Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of certain diseases. For example, hospitals use isolation for patients with infectious tuberculosis.

Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. Quarantine can also help limit the spread of communicable disease.

At this time, according to MDH:

The risk of Ebola disease being spread in Minnesota continues to be extremely low.

Ebola is transmitted when a person has had direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an Ebola-infected person or with object contaminated with that person’s blood or body fluids.

People returning from the affected areas who do not have symptoms are not infectious. There should be no restrictions on their attendance or activities.

Fever in people who traveled to the affected areas is most likely due to more common infectious diseases in West Africa (e.g. malaria), but should still be checked by a doctor urgently.

As a reminder, we are now in influenza season, and while both Ebola and influenza may have a symptom of fever, other symptoms are quite different:

Influenza is a respiratory virus, which exhibits a cough and/or sore throat and body aches.

Ebola has gastro-intestinal (stomach) symptoms such as vomiting and/or diarrhea. As a reminder, Ebola can only be contracted from contact with blood or other bodily fluids of someone who is infected.

For accurate, and up to date information on Ebola, visit the http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/ or http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/vhf/index.html.

 

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