Ebola in my home town

Before this summer I often glossed over bioterrorism in my Survival Medicine classes…that could never happen here, could it?

Now that Ebola has arrived in my home town I feel differently. No doubt you’ve heard of the health care worker who flew from Cleveland to Dallas the day before she reported symptoms of Ebola.  During her time in Ohio she visited the Akron area, Tallmadge actually, less than 5 miles from my home.  Yikes!  Time to take this seriously.  No wonder a  friend called from Alabama…to wish me farewell…just in case.

Not that this is bioterrorism – but it could be someday.  Ebola is on the CDC’s Category A list of potential bioterrorism agents.

For the local story, check out the Fox news coverage at http://fox8.com/2014/10/15/cdc-notifies-frontier-passengers-says-ebola-patient-traveled-on-flight-from-cle-monday/.  The house under quarantine could well be in my neighborhood.

Over the past month I’ve been receiving nearly daily Ebola updates.  I haven’t posted an article on my site before now, since readers have access to the same news I receive.  But today the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians sent out an alert, along with the following Ebola Virus Fact Sheet.

Note that physicians are being asked to try to diagnose patients via telephone and to NOT draw blood.  Check out the references below for the official Ohio response to Ebola.  I’ll keep you updated on the local scene if anything more develops.  And make sure you and your own community are prepared for the unthinkable.


Ebola Virus Disease

(Source: Ohio Department of Health)

Ebola virus disease is one of several hemorrhagic fevers. It is spread through direct contact with:

  1. The blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola
  2. Objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola
  3. Touching the body of someone who has died from Ebola.

Ebola is not spread by air or water.

Ohio Information

On October 15, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the Ohio Department of Health that a health care worker in Dallas, TX, diagnosed with Ebola recently visited family in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Health has activated its Ebola preparedness plan and initiated a 24-hour-a-day call center to answer Ohioans’ questions about Ebola. The number is (866) 800-1404.

What Should Family Physicians Do?

According to Mary DiOrio, MD, state epidemiologist and interim chief of the Division of Prevention and Health Promotion at the Ohio Department of Health, physicians are asked to diagnose patients by telephone, if possible, for Ebola virus symptoms. Physicians should also verify whether the person in recent weeks has either traveled to West Africa or been in contact with someone who has. If the patient is being diagnosed in person, physicians should check for symptoms such as fever, body aches and fatigue, but should not draw blood.

The Ohio Department of Health also stresses that it is now also important to ask whether individuals have had contact with a person ill with Ebola in the United States. Physicians and other health care professionals are reminded of the appropriate use of personal protective equipment as indicated.

Physician & Patient Resources

– See more at: http://www.ohioafp.org/practice-transformation/ebola-virus-disease/#sthash.y6sqt9jX.dpuf

About Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

CYNTHIA J KOELKER , MD is a board-certified family physician with over twenty years of clinical experience. A member of American Mensa, Dr. Koelker holds degrees in biology, humanities, medicine, and music from M.I.T., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She served in the National Health Service Corps to finance her medical education.
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