Public Health Leads Ebola Preparedness Efforts in Cobb and Douglas Counties

November 10, 2014

Ebola response plans are being coordinated throughout every corner of Georgia. Public health professionals, government officials, health care providers and community activists are forging collaborative partnerships to ensure Georgians are protected from Ebola public health threats and educated about the virus.

Now more than ever, local leaders are stepping up to the challenge of preparing their communities for a potential Ebola outbreak by employing proactive health precautions. Of the many Georgia counties working on this effort, significant progress has been in Cobb and Douglas counties.

Although it is highly unlikely an Ebola case will be diagnosed in this area, Cobb and Douglas Public Health (CDPH) continues to heighten its preparedness and response efforts. CDPH is in the process of ensuring that local hospitals, schools, healthcare providers, government agencies and other community partners are ready to handle an Ebola case if diagnosed in this area. 

“We understand that the residents of Cobb and Douglas Counties are concerned about the spread of Ebola virus,” said Jack Kennedy, M.D., district health director at CDPH. “We want the community to know that their local health department is working with an expanded list of local, state and federal partners to be as prepared as possible should any cases be identified.”

CDPH is actively working with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and local partners to provide information and guidance regarding Ebola. This includes holding tabletop exercises and daily updates to ensure health care workers are not only aware of how to diagnose a possible Ebola infection, but also how to minimize the risk of exposure if a case is detected. Tabletop exercises are discussion-based sessions guided by a facilitator where team members meet in an informal, classroom setting to discuss their roles during an emergency and their responses to a particular emergency situation or scenario. 

CDPH has also created an Ebola Response Team tasked with addressing the potential impact Ebola could have on Cobb and Douglas Counties. Similar to other Ebola Response Teams being created throughout the state, this effort is a deep collaboration among public and private organizations working together to better prepare their community for a suspected or diagnosed Ebola case.

Ensuring the general public is informed and educated about Ebola is also a high priority among county and statewide leaders. To meet this goal, CDPH has made the following facts about Ebola available to further communicate how the virus is acquired, its symptoms and protocols travelers will be required to take if returning from an Ebola-affected area.

Facts about Ebola

  • Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluids (including but not limited to feces, saliva, urine, vomit, breast milk and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola. The virus in blood and body fluids can enter another person’s body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose or mouth.
  • The virus also can be spread through contact with objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus.
  • Ebola is NOT spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food; however, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bush meat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.
  • Health workers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk.
  • Symptoms of Ebola include: fever (including low-grade), headache, weakness, muscle pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal pain or hemorrhage.
  • Symptoms appear 2 to 21 days after exposure but the average is 8 to 10 days.
  • Ebola should be considered in patients who have traveled to affected countries or have been exposed to someone with Ebola and have compatible symptoms.
  • Health care providers should be alert for, and evaluate any patient who has had travel during the 21 days before symptom onset from an Ebola-affected area (currently Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone) or had contact with an individual who has Ebola.
  • Travelers, upon returning to the United States from affected regions, will be actively monitored for symptoms by public health for 21 days. CDPH is working with its community partners to make sure they are aware and up-to-date on the latest screening guidelines for the Ebola virus.

For more information on Ebola protection and prevention and to find the latest screening guidelines, visit www.dph.ga.gov/ebola

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November 10, 2014

Public health practitioners from across the State of Georgia gathered virtually last week for a video-enabled dialogue on Ebola preparedness efforts in Georgia. The conversation, broadcast to 203 public health buildings throughout the state, focused on proactive measures being taken in Georgia to both contain the spread of the Ebola virus and treat potential cases.