Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE - In the last few months, the Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and other partners have been actively engaged in responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Since the first report surfaced in March, there have been more than 1,700 cases of Ebola reported, and more than half of them have resulted in death. This is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first in West Africa. No Ebola cases have been transmitted in the U.S. and the likelyhood of the outbreak spreading outside of West Africa is very low.
In this undated handout photo provided by Medecins Sans Frontieres, local staff and healthcare workers for Doctors Without Borders wear Ebola protection equipment in Liberia. For doctors and nurses fighting Ebola in West Africa, working in head-to-toe protective gear in muddy health clinics is often the least of their problems, as many also struggle to convince people they are there to stop Ebola, not spread it. (AP Photo/MSF)
Marquette County Health Department medical director Dr. Terry Frankovich said in a written statement that with many non-profit organizations removing staff from affected countries and routine international travel, Marquette County needs to be prepared for any travelers to those nations who were potentially exposed to the virus.
"I want to stress that unlike many infections which are transmitted from one person to another by breathing the same air, Ebola is spread only through exposure to the bodily fluids of someone with the disease," Frankovich said. "Even though the risk of Ebola appearing in our area is very low, it's important that communities are prepared."
The MCHD has been communicating with its hospital partners and other organizations to address any concerns that could arise related to the Ebola virus for travelers returning from African nations affected by the virus. They stated that their intention is to reassure residents that this infection is on their radar and the safety of the community is - as always - the foremost priority of local public health.
"Local hospitals such as Marquette General Hospital have established plans in place to quickly isolate and treat anyone who has traveled back from an affected nation, been exposed to the virus and is showing symptoms," Frankovich said. "Here in the U.S., it is much easier to isolate and manage patients than in the affected West Africa nations."
The MCHD works closely with the state health department, area medical providers and the federal CDC to monitor any infectious disease concerns in the regions.
Area physicians and medical staff are being alerted to the need to be aware of any patient returning from the affected region who are manifesting symptoms of the disease.
More information on Ebola is available at www.cdc.gov/ vhf/Ebola.