Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

County Prepares for Ebola ; Health Officer: Only Direct Contact Can Transmit Virus

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

County Prepares for Ebola ; Health Officer: Only Direct Contact Can Transmit Virus

Article excerpt

Shawnee County is preparing for the possibility of Ebola and becomes "more ready with every day that goes by," county health officer Gianfranco Pezzino told commissioners Thursday.

Pezzino, who was out of state, spoke over speakerphone at that morning's meeting of the county's Board of Health, which consists of County Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler.

Pezzino said the presence of any Ebola case would be disruptive "but we'd be as ready as we could be under the circumstances."

Pezzino and Shawnee County Health Agency director Allison Alejos, who was present at Thursday's meeting, gave a presentation about the SCHA's efforts to prepare for the potential appearance of Ebola, a rare and deadly disease spread through a virus, which has killed thousands in Africa.

The United States saw its first Ebola case last month when a visiting Liberian national was diagnosed with it at a Dallas hospital. The man died last week. Two nurses who treated him have since been diagnosed with Ebola, one receiving that diagnosis after she took an airline flight from Ohio.

Pezzino said the SCHA is working with the county health agency, local law enforcement agencies and local hospitals to prepare for the possibility of Ebola here.

Alejos noted that disease investigation and containment is something the SCHA already carries out on a daily basis, using guidelines set by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Pezzino told commissioners not to be surprised if some of the protocols used today in dealing with Ebola happen to change in the near future.

He stressed that the Ebola virus can be transmitted only through direct contact with a person who has the disease.

Pezzino said only Ebola patients with symptoms, such as fever, are in danger of transmitting the disease to others.

He stressed three major points in dealing with Ebola:

- The importance of early diagnosis, with patients needing to be checked for Ebola if they have a fever and have traveled to any of the five overseas countries where it is present. …

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