Provider News Summer 2015 - Ebola

Local healthcare provider returns from treating Ebola patients; surveillance goes smoothly

While West Africa’s and the larger world’s medical and public health communities’ efforts have greatly decreased the largest Ebola epidemic in history, and Liberia has reported only 6 new cases from March thru July 7, 2015, the fact that some areas in Sierra Leone and Guinea are still Ebola "hotspots" remains of concern and potential threat. Due to this, Shasta County Public Health is pleased with the results of our recent monitoring of a returning asymptomatic traveler from an Ebola-affected country. This brave local healthcare provider worked treating Ebola patients for nine grueling weeks and had to be monitored for the mandatory period of 21 days, the longest incubation period, upon returning home.

Public Health had been meeting since August 2014 to develop a comprehensive plan to monitor returning travelers and how to safely care for someone exposed to or suspected of having Ebola. Communicable disease Public Health Nurses contacted this person twice a day, keeping track of their temperature, other symptoms (if any developed) and made note of any visitors they received in the event symptoms materialized. Public Health staff developed history forms and utilized a number of unique tools during the monitoring, including video phone calls and specialized thermometers.

The returning traveler was very cooperative, and completed monitoring without incident. We applaud their great humanitarian work and know that this opportunity has made us even more confident in the plans we have in place, should we have to monitor another person for MERS, Ebola, or other infectious diseases of public health concern.

Additionally, our Public Health Laboratory has been awarded a grant to increase our staff and testing capabilities to prepare for and respond to infections diseases, including Ebola and malaria.

Having a shorter turnaround time to locally test for these diseases will directly improve the quality of care for the residents of Shasta County. It’s expected that the Public Health Laboratory will have these changes in place and fully operational by Fall 2016.