Members of Kodiak’s Local Emergency Planning Committee and Emergency Services Organization were given an update on the worldwide Ebola outbreak during a quarterly meeting on Tuesday. Elsa DeHart from the Public Health Center spoke about the virus, and what the threat is here in Alaska.
She said Ebola has primarily affected countries in Western Africa, where fatalities are close to 5,000. Worldwide there have been 9 deaths from Ebola and only one in the U.S. DeHart said it is spread through bodily fluids, making it a difficult to contract.
“Really they say that there is no risk for anybody who is not within about three feet of somebody for a long period of time when they are symptomatic.”
DeHart said measures are being taken around the world, especially in the U.S. to isolate folks that have been exposed to the disease, including military troops reentering the country. She said health care workers that have been treating patients are being carefully monitored – with temperatures take multiple times a day.
“The CDC and the state of Alaska have worked really hard to prevent any more Ebola from coming into the country. And hopefully that’s effective. As of right now there are only five airports that are allowed to have people from those countries arriving and they’re well-staffed to be able to take temperatures to see how people are doing or leaving.”
She said Kodiak, particularly Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center, is well prepared and most clinics in town have a plan ready.
“The biggest issue is if they find anybody, or anybody comes in contact with somebody they think has been in contact with somebody who has Ebola, the state has a phone number, and it’s on that paper we sent you – 907-269-8000. And they will walk anybody through it step by step. And they’re really good. And they’re there 24 hours a day. So if there’s any questions at all that somebody is sick or having symptoms, just have them call that number.”
So far there have been no reported cases of Ebola in Alaska.