Governor Corbett Provides Update on Preparedness for Ebola Virus
Governor Tom Corbett joined Secretary of Health Michael Wolf and Physician General Dr. Carrie DeLone today to announce that – while there are no confirmed cases in Pennsylvania – the commonwealth is well prepared for the Ebola virus and is committed to protecting the health and public safety of all Pennsylvanians.
“I want to assure all Pennsylvanians that the state has a coordinated and thorough approach underway to ensure we are prepared and ready to deploy our public health resources in the event of suspected or confirmed cases appearing in the commonwealth,” Gov. Corbett said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other states, and a multitude of public health partners and emergency management organizations throughout the commonwealth.
“Ebola is a very serious disease, and we are still learning a lot about it as time goes on,” Physician General Dr. Carrie DeLone said. “We are keeping a very close eye on the confirmed Ebola cases in the U.S. and other developments around the world and improving our policies and response in Pennsylvania as we learn more.”
There has been no evidence that this strain of the Ebola virus can be spread in any way other than direct contact with an infected person or animal’s bodily fluids, so the risk to the general public in Pennsylvania remains very low at this point in time.
“We have provided important information and guidance to both government partners and external public health partners, including hospitals, physicians, schools, emergency medical services, 911 operators, West African community leaders and others,” Secretary of Health Michael Wolf added. “We will continue to communicate regularly with them to ensure our Ebola preparedness and response efforts are aligned and closely coordinated.”
In an effort to help ensure Pennsylvanians have access to important information, the Department of Health has enhanced the Ebola section of its website at www.health.state.pa.us. It includes general information for the public such as frequently asked questions; posters in English, French and Spanish; as well as links to other helpful resources. Additionally, specifically for health care professionals, the department offers a downloadable poster that can be placed in waiting areas, a checklist for medical intake personnel and a direct link to CDC advisories and guidance as it relates to Ebola in the U.S.
“Ensuring that all Pennsylvanians are informed and educated about the facts of Ebola is critical to containing the spread of this devastating disease,” DeLone said
Ebola is a rare and often deadly disease that affects humans and primates. There is currently no vaccine or medicine that has been proven to cure Ebola. People who have the disease are treated for their symptoms as they develop.
Signs and symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 21 days after being exposed to the Ebola virus, but they most commonly begin within eight to 10 days after exposure. Symptoms may include:
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising
Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. They are not naturally found in the United States. Africa is currently experiencing an outbreak of the disease in the western countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“If you visited one of the affected African countries and develop fever within three weeks after leaving that country, you should seek medical care right away and tell your doctor about your recent travel,” DeLone added. “It’s very important that you call the doctor’s office or emergency room before you go and tell them about your symptoms and recent travel so that arrangements can be made, if necessary, to prevent others from becoming sick.”
Individuals who have been exposed to the Ebola virus do not become contagious unless and until they present symptoms, and would become more contagious as the virus progresses if they show symptoms.
The Department of Health will continue to work closely with federal and local health officials on this situation and will update the public on relevant developments as necessary.
“This is an evolving matter, both nationally and globally,” Gov. Corbett said. “While we continue to follow established protocols and procedures, we are also learning every day and monitoring closely to make real-time adjustments to our preparedness strategies and procedures to ensure we have the best possible Pennsylvania plan.”
The Department of Health reminds healthcare providers across Pennsylvania who treat patients with a history of travel to the Ebola-affected countries and who have relevant symptoms to immediately inform their local health department of suspected cases. The Department of Health will assist all healthcare providers in evaluating patients, assisting in specimen collection and testing, as needed.