I know people are very concerned about Ebola. The Oregon Health Authority is working with partners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and across the state to protect the health of everyone in Oregon.
This week, we learned of two cases of people in Oregon who were ill and had traveled to Africa. Thankfully, both cases turned out to be people who were not at risk for Ebola. And in both cases, Oregon’s state and county public health departments worked closely with our hospital system and Portland International Airport, following the correct procedures and protocols to ensure the patients and the public were protected.
At the same time, our public health officials and spokespeople worked with the media to make sure Oregonians had the facts about Ebola:
- Ebola is a very serious illness, but it’s not highly communicable. The risk of Ebola disease here in Oregon is low.
- Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, or from objects contaminated with the virus (needles, medical equipment).
- Oregon has a robust public health system. State and local health authorities are in contact with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are emergency plans in place at PDX and Sea-Tac airports to deal with just this kind of situation.
- Our Public Health Division has assembled an incident management team to address the ongoing Ebola epidemic.
- Check the website healthoregon.org/ebola for the most up-to-date information.
While our health system prepares for emerging issues like Ebola, it’s important for all of us to take steps to protect ourselves, our families and our communities from more common serious illnesses like the flu. This time of year, that means washing our hands often and staying home when we’re sick. Finally, flu shot clinics are popping up now at PEBB-sponsored sites across the state. If you can’t make it to a worksite clinic, check with your health provider or a pharmacy in your health plan’s network.
Events in recent weeks serve as a reminder that we live in a truly global community. The best way to prevent an epidemic from reaching our doorstep is to ensure a strong and resilient health system here in Oregon, in states across the country, and in countries around the world.