Updated: 11 People in Del. Monitored for Ebola-like Symptoms - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: 11 People in Del. Monitored for Ebola-like Symptoms

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DOVER, Del.- Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, joined by the state's top health officials, along with infectious disease and emergency response experts, announced Wednesday that 11 people in the First State are currently being monitored for Ebola-like symptoms. It was part of the ongoing statewide efforts in response to the Ebola virus epidemic.

"We are facing an unprecedented situation with the Ebola virus, making prevention and preparation efforts vital," Markell said. "While the risk of transmission in Delaware is low, the state has been preparing for the potential of any Ebola cases for months to ensure we are in the best possible position to keep the public safe."

While there are no cases in Delaware and the risk of transmission is low, the Division of Public Health, which is part of the Department of Health and Social Services, said it is working to ensure the appropriate screening tools and disease prevention strategies are used to further reduce any chance of transmission. These tools and strategies are based on the best currently available science, which tells us that Ebola virus is only transmitted by infected patients who have symptoms. The risk of getting the disease through normal, everyday contact is extremely low.

Authorities said the DPH is in direct contact with these people to check their health status and will remain so for a 21-day period following their last potential exposure.

"We've got a lot of people from different agencies working on it. Based on the available information, we believe this is the appropriate approach," Markell said.

DPH said it is working closely with hospitals, medical providers, EMS companies, and many other partners to prepare, coordinate care, and provide advice and guidance. Issues being addressed by this group include how to screen for the disease, safe ambulance transportation of potential Ebola patients, personal protective equipment guidance and availability, hospital readiness, infectious disease monitoring, and protocols for any doctor's office that might see a case.

"Delaware's hospitals know that the best way to address Ebola is to prevent its spread. The division's approach to doing that is sound, science-based, and will help protect both Delawareans and the health care professionals who care for them," said Wayne Smith, president and CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association.

In addition, the governor has directed engagement from all cabinet-level agencies to ensure statewide efforts are coordinated and comprehensive.

"If a case is confirmed in Delaware, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rapid response team would be on the ground to assist us," said Secretary Rita Landgraf. "They would support the Division of Public Health to trace any potential contacts who might need to be monitored, have activity restrictions or, although unlikely, be quarantined. The CDC also would work with the State and the hospitals to determine if the ill patient should be moved out of state for treatment."

In coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DPH is receiving notice of all travelers from the three West African countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.

DPH said that currently there are 11 individuals in Delaware who are considered low-risk who are being monitored. Eight live in New Castle County and three live in Kent County. "Low-risk" is defined as having no known direct contact with a person infected with the Ebola virus.

DHSS urges people not to make assumptions that someone might be infected based on their accent, background or skin color, and it is important to remember how hard the disease is to transmit.

If you wish to discuss a suspected case, you may contact DPH 24/7 at 888-295-5156, including weekends and holidays. If you have general questions, the CDC has a 24/7 line available for information on the Ebola virus at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
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