Health and Family Services Cabinet
Kentucky Department for Public Health Leading State’s Ebola Preparedness Efforts
No significant risk to Kentuckians at this time
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 16, 2014) – The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is coordinating multiple efforts related to Ebola preparedness to increase the level of readiness for hospitals, local health departments, other health providers and partners to deal with any potential cases of Ebola in the state in the unlikely event of such an occurrence. There have been no cases of Ebola reported in Kentucky at this time.
“We understand that Kentuckians are concerned following the first cases of Ebola in the United States, and we want them to know that we are working diligently with the health community so that Kentucky is as prepared as possible should any cases be identified,” said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, public health commissioner. “Experiences like pandemic H1N1 influenza and practice drills and exercises help the health care community and emergency management to be ready to handle unusual infectious diseases.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DPH continue to issue guidance and develop materials to assist health providers on investigating, screening, diagnosing and treating possible cases of Ebola virus, should that become necessary.
DPH is providing information and guidance to medical providers about Ebola, including holding internal briefings and tabletop exercises to make sure hospitals, physicians and other 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 identified.
This summer, DPH issued guidance to health professionals to help identify situations where some level of quarantine or monitoring might be appropriate for a traveler returning from affected areas in West Africa.
The current Ebola outbreak has been centered in a few countries in West Africa. Ebola is not spread by air, water, casual contact or food in the United States. You can only get Ebola from contact with bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, or from exposure to contaminated objects, such as needles.
“We are closely monitoring the developments with the first cases of Ebola transmitted in the U.S. in Texas, involving health care workers who treated a patient who was exposed to the virus in Liberia, and learning from the experiences there,” said Dr. Mayfield. “The only individuals potentially at risk for Ebola in the United States right now are those who have traveled to affected areas of West Africa or who have been directly involved in treating cases of Ebola or close contacts to a symptomatic patient with Ebola. We encourage patients to immediately inform their health care providers if they are ill and have travelled to an affected country within the previous 21 days or had contact with someone with Ebola. Likewise, all providers should take a thorough travel history on all their patients.”
Symptoms of Ebola include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure, although 8-10 days is most common. People are not contagious before they show symptoms.
There have also been reports of misinformation and materials that may be designed to appear official circulating in some communities. People should consult http://www.cdc.gov and http://healthalerts.ky.gov for up-to-date, accurate information about Ebola.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state's human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the lives and health of Kentuckians.