Senator Berta Gardner

October 16, 2014

 
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Serving Midtown,
Spenard, and UMed

433 W. 4th Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99501
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What Alaskans Might Want to Know About Ebola

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Saturday Oct 4th event flyer
Quick video describing the events surrounding Ebola to date.

        It’s darn near impossible to miss the updates about the Ebola outbreak continuing to spread across Africa. Despite strong statements of assurance from federal health officials, many of us worry possible contagion and spreading of Ebola in Alaska or elsewhere in the world.  I have heard officials claim that what is happening in Africa absolutely could not happen here, and I find that comforting but want to know why this may be so.

         Alaska state epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Cooper, tells us Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever disease, is actually quite difficult to transmit from one person to another.  The primary mode of infection is through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person, which explains why those most at risk of catching the disease are health care workers currently working directly with patients.

         That's good news: Ebola is hard to transmit. But, what about Alaska specifically? What’s being done to help prepare Alaska for an infected patient, and what’s being done to ensure that proper procedures are being followed to prevent other from becoming infected? 

         Earlier this month the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services sent out a public health bulletin advising all healthcare personnel as to procedures in place to determine if someone has been infected with Ebola and how to handle the situation.

         The state continues to send out updated health bulletins as news comes in, and Dr. Cooper adds that there are other efforts also related to Ebola prevention and containment:  interagency teleconferences, multidisciplinary Grand Rounds presentations, Public Health Alerts, multiple television and radio/media interviews, frequent telephone and email consultations with stakeholders, and participation in regular teleconferences with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other States to ensure updated and accurate information and guidance.

         As to the likelihood that someone in Alaska would be infected outside the state, Dr. Cooper stated that with the overall low number of Alaskans traveling to West Africa, we are somewhat insulated against infection. This, however, does not mean we can be complacent about the disease either here or in Africa.

         I truly wish there was more we could do to help the people of Africa during this time of need. I doubt anything in this enews was of any great surprise to readers, but Alaskans understand, we are very much a global community regardless of our distance from other places, and it is important for us to watch what happens elsewhere.  

         Here are some links I found particularly interesting:

www.epi.alaska.gov/id/dod/ebola/default.htm

www.epi.alaska.gov/phan/AKPHAN_20141003_Ebola.pdf

www.epi.alaska.gov/phan/AKPHAN_20140812_Ebola.pdf

www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/qa.html

         Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns.

         I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

         If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office.

signed: Berta

 

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