Credit CDC PHIL
This week marks the end of Ebola contact monitoring in the states of Ohio and Texas, as 21 days have now passed since the last known exposure to an infected patient. The vigil in Ohio ended mid-week, while the one in Texas will end later today.
Since the majority of those being monitored were extremely `low risk’ contacts, the risks to the community were always considered small. This should, however, offer some reassurance to those who were worried that Ebola might quickly spread in the United States.
New York state continues to monitor contacts of Dr. Spencer, but thus far the new is very encouraging, as there are no indications that he transmitted the virus to anyone else.
Despite the media hysteria and the internet conspiracy predictions of doom, the evidence continues to mount that Ebola infected individuals – at least early in the symptomatic phase of their illness – are less infectious than many people originally feared.
While this phase of America’s Ebola experience draws to a close, the evidence suggests we’ll see more imported cases of Ebola (or MERS, Avian Flu, etc.) in the future, which will prompt similar public health responses. Many of the lessons learned in Ohio and Texas will no doubt help other states when it becomes their turn to deal with a local case.
Two press releases follow:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 5, 2014
Contact: Ohio Department of Health Public Affairs, (614) 644-8562
COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Health reported this morning in its Daily Ebola Contact Report that there are currently:
- 0 confirmed cases of Ebola in Ohio;
- 0 people under quarantine;
- 0 contacts statewide;
Tuesday was the last day of monitoring all contacts as their 21 days exposure has ended. ODH officials and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Ohio team members worked together to identify anyone who may have had contact of some type with the Dallas nurse who was in Northeast Ohio, Oct. 10-13. No individuals have shown any symptoms.
The ODH call center will also go back to operating only between business hours of 8am-5pm. During the Ebola response effort, the call center saw 2404 calls. Ohioans can still call the number if they have any questions about Ebola. The number to call is 1-866-800-1404.
Nov. 6, 2014
The last person being monitored in connection with the state’s three diagnosed Ebola patients will be cleared from twice-daily monitoring by the end of the day Friday after reaching the 21-day mark, the longest incubation period for the disease.
No additional cases of the disease have been diagnosed in Texas.
A total of 177 people – a mix of health care workers, household contacts and community members – have been monitored over time because they had contact with at least one of the three Texas Ebola patients, specimens or medical waste. The last person being monitored Friday is a hospital worker who handled medical waste Oct. 17.
“We’re happy to reach this milestone, but our guard stays up,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. “We reached this point through teamwork and meticulous monitoring, and we’ll continue to be vigilant to protect Texas from Ebola.”
Texas also recently cleared the people who were being monitored in Texas because they were passengers on one of the Dallas-Cleveland flights that carried a Dallas health care worker before she was diagnosed with Ebola.
State and local health officials worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to closely monitor people since the first patient was diagnosed Sept. 30.
Health officials continue to monitor all travelers who return to Texas from countries with widespread Ebola outbreaks. The CDC has identified about 50 people who have returned to Texas from those areas. One of those travelers, a Central Texas nurse who cared for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, is considered to be at “some risk” of exposure to Ebola and has agreed to stay home until she reaches the 21-day mark. The rest are considered to be “low risk” contacts and are being monitored for symptoms.