CLINTON—Anderson County officials are aware of the few cases of the Ebola virus in the United States and are taking early preventive measures in the unlikely event that the virus occurs here, the Anderson County Mayor’s Office said Wednesday.
Preventive measures being taken by local Health Department and emergency officials include conferencing, protocol reviews, and in-service training. This will help ensure that they “know what to do in the unlikely event that a case of the Ebola virus occurs here,” a press release said.
The release said staff members at the Anderson County Health Department recently completed a “table-top exercise” aimed at allowing the employees to plan ahead and be prepared. They used a hypothetical case and followed already-established protocol to deal with the hypothetical case. The procedures involved isolation of the hypothetical Ebola patient upon presentation to the Health Department, protection measures for other Health Department patients and staff members, and immediate communication between the local Health Department, Anderson County Emergency Medical Service, Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, and the Health Department’s regional office in Knox County, as well as the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Similar exercises have been conducted in every health department office across Tennessee,” said Art Miller, director of the Anderson County Health Department.
“We have a great team in Anderson County that communicates and works well together,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said. “We believe it is very highly unlikely that a case of the Ebola virus will happen in Anderson County, but we want to be proactive at the same time. We want citizens to know we are keeping a close watch, communicating, and preparing.”
The release said Anderson County EMS personnel are all trained in recognizing symptoms of the virus and trained in the questions to ask of their patients.
“EMS has had an infection control policy for a long time,” said Nathan Sweet, Anderson County EMS director. “ln many ways, we’re ahead of the game. We are more than adequately prepared to deal with this situation and feel we have all possible measures in place to protect the patient, our crews and the public.”
Miller said health departments, EMS personnel, and hospitals across Tennessee are all receiving training in proper protocols to deal with Ebola virus. The release said county and local Health Department officials are appreciative of the leadership provided in this matter by the Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner and his employees.
“Our main job, as a health department, is to communicate and educate the public,” Miller said.
According to the CDC, Ebola virus is only contagious through direct physical contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has traveled to countries in West Africa and develops a fever and other symptoms, including body aches, vomiting, and diarrhea.
To date, three people in the United States have been diagnosed with Ebola; one man in Dallas, Texas, who recently traveled there from Liberia, and two hospital nurses who reportedly cared for him. The man died on October 8.
See a Tennessee Department of Health flyer here: TN Department of Health flyer.