As fears of an Ebola outbreak rise, federal agencies are taking steps to protect and inform the public.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is taking the lead on most aspects of the effort – issuing containment guidelines to hospitals and other health workers, training airport personnel on screening methods, and creating uniform lab tests to diagnose the deadly disease
. But as in all public health emergencies, state and local public health departments are the nation’s first line of defense.
What role do state and local health agencies play in protecting the public?
State and local health department workers are often first responders, communicating directly with residents and health care workers, as well as coordinating with related agencies and hospitals through established communication networks. They also manage public health laboratories that test for the virus.
For example, when the Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, tested positive for Ebola in September, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported the laboratory results to the hospital that was treating him and the Dallas County health agency began tracking down people who had direct contact with him.
Later, the state agency issued quarantine orders for those who had come in contact with Duncan, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department delivered the orders and county health officials checked the temperatures of those who were quarantined.Continue reading →
As the death toll from the West African Ebola outbreak nears 1,400, two American missionaries who received experimental drugs and top-notch healthcare have been released from the hospital.
We spend the hour with Partners in Health co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer discussing what can be done to stop the epidemic and the need to build local healthcare capacity, not just an emergency response.
“The Ebola outbreak, which is the largest in history that we know about, is merely a reflection of the public health crisis in Africa, and it’s about the lack of staff, stuff and systems that could protect populations, particularly those living in poverty, from outbreaks like this or other public health threats,” says Farmer, who has devoted his life to improving the health of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
He is a professor at Harvard Medical School and currently serves as the special adviser to the United Nations on community-based medicine. He has written several books including, “Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues.”
The City of Mercer Island announced Wednesday it has lifted the current Boil-Water Advisory in consultation with the state Department of Health. Restaurants may reopen after speaking directly with a Health Inspector from Public Health – Seattle & King County and following completion of step-by-step procedures.
For the sixth day in a row, water-sample test results are clear: all 18 of the latest samples revealed no presence of E. Coli or Total Coliform, and chlorine levels were adequate. This brings the total number of samples collected to more than 100 over 6 days.
Mayor Bruce Bassett said: “I know I can speak for the whole community when I say that this day has been a long time coming. I’d like to thank staff and partner agencies for their extensive commitment to not only resolving this incident and implementing corrective measures, but also ensuring the safety of the community. We all look forward to life returning back to normal.” Continue reading →
Back in 2008, South Carolina transportation officials were itching to do something innovative to curtail the number of serious traffic crashes in their state.
The federal government already had designated South Carolina as one of the states with the highest proportion of traffic fatalities at intersections.
So state highway safety officials began working with their counterparts at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to come up with a new, system-wide approach to tackling the problem.Continue reading →
City Reveals Sunday Test Results and Next Actions Boil-Water Advisory Still in Place
Sun Oct 5, 12:15 pm – The City of Mercer Island announces that the latest test results from water samples collected Saturday have been analyzed and are clear: all 18 of the samples revealed no presence of E. Coli or Total Coliform.
This includes seven samples collected with permission from residential properties.
Today’s test results mark the third day of samples free of contamination; at this time however, the boil-water advisory is still in place.
This morning, Public Health – Seattle & King County reported a potential case of E. Coli illness infection in an Island resident; the patient has not been hospitalized.
At this point, it is not possible to say whether there is any link to Mercer Island water; lab tests are pending. Contact Public Health for more information.
The City and WA State Department of Health continue to review implementation of the response plan and water quality test results in order to determine the earliest that the boil-water advisory can be lifted safely.
Mercer Island School District plans to continue a regular school schedule using “heat and eat” food and special water procedures, approved by Public Health – Seattle & King County. Unless otherwise notified, parents should visit the school’s website (www.mercerislandschools.org) for the latest information. Continue reading →
Pertussis, the whooping cough bacteria — CDC photo
The Hollywood Reporter has a great investigation for which it sought the vaccination records of elementary schools all over Los Angeles County. They found that vaccination rates in elite neighborhoods like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have tanked, and the incidence of whooping cough there has skyrocketed.
The White Center clinic, which serves West Seattle, Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila, and Des Moines, was under threat of closing due to cut backs in state and federal funding.
Under the new partnership, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest will provide family planning services at the facility, while Public Health continues to provide Women, Infant and Children (WIC) and Maternity Support services for the next two years.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has committed $400,000 in 2015 to help keep Greenbridge open and preserve a variety of public health services.
Athens, Georgia—When Georgia public high schools were asked several years ago to devise a policy to govern sports activities during periods of high heat and humidity, one school’s proposal stood out: It pledged to scale back workouts when the heat index reached 140.
Those who understood the heat index, the combined effects of air temperature and humidity, weren’t sure whether to be appalled or amused. “If you hit a heat index of 140,” said Bud Cooper, a sports medicine researcher at the University of Georgia who examined all the proposed policies, “you’d basically be sitting in the Sahara Desert.”
The policy reflected an old-school, “no pain, no gain” philosophy, a view that athletes need to be pushed to their physical limits—or beyond them—if they and their teams are to realize their full potential.
In some places, state, school and sports officials are recognizing that the zeal of coaches, players, and parents for athletic accomplishment must be subordinated to safety. Increasingly, they are adopting measures to protect student athletes from serious, even catastrophic injuries or illnesses that can be the consequence of a blinkered focus on competitiveness.Continue reading →
From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
For Colleges and Universities
Advice for Study Abroad, Foreign Exchange, or Other Education-related Travel
Is it safe to travel to countries where the Ebola outbreaks are occurring (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria)? What should we do if we have study abroad, foreign exchange, research, or other education-related travel planned to these countries?Continue reading →
Tips for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Going to college is an exciting time in a young person’s life. It’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. College is a great time for new experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. Here are a few pointers for college students on staying safe and healthy.Continue reading →