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County emergency services prepared for possible outbreak

By: Greg Bird

Though the risk of McCreary County experiencing an outbreak of the potentially deadly ebola virus is slim, local officials are making sure the county’s emergency personnel are equipped to deal with a public health crisis.

While ebola is prevalent in the news recently, other infectious diseases such as the flu and enterovirus have a more likely chance of transmission in the community.

To reassure the public that local officials have a plan in place to deal with any health emergency dealing with infectious diseases, Judge Executive Doug Stephens issued Executive Order 2-634 Monday, ordering all emergency service personnel and official staff take necessary precautions to prepare for any possible public health threat that could arise.

“There is very little probability that we will face an emergency related to this disease here in our community,” Judge Stephens said. “However, as the situation grows, so does concern and the need to be prepared. I want the public to know we are doing what we need to do to be ready for a health emergency.”

McCreary County Emergency Management Director Rudy Young stressed people should be aware of possible health risks, including flu and Enterovirus D68, and urged citizens to get their seasonal flu shots.

“Everyone should be concerned with these two threats, especially if they are children or among the aging population,” Young said.

In a press release issued by Judge Stephens, he reiterated the threat of an actual outbreak is low, but asked citizens to be aware of the possible risks.

“All residents are urged not to panic and to continue with their daily lives, but to also take simple precautions to help contain all health threats,” it read. “Washing hands, avoiding contact with ill persons and/or bodily fluids and remaining home if you are sick, will go a long way in containing illness within the community.”

“Citizens are also urged, should they need medical assistance, to call their doctor, health department, or 911 to relay their symptoms and ailments in advance to arrange for proper treatment. This advance notice to medical providers will help to limit the spread of any illness that may enter our community.”

Young said all emergency personnel have been advised in the proper ways to treat a potentially infected patient, and special supplies have been ordered that will protect the workers when coming into contact with a potentially hazardous situation.

Additionally, he has been working with the American Red Cross to designate special shelters throughout the county in the event that shelters are needed for quarantine.

The risk of contracting the ebola virus is slim, and believed to be through the direct contact of bodily fluids from a victim, or contact with objects that may have been contaminated by bodily fluids.

Symptoms of ebola include: high fever (over 101.5 degrees), severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising.

Symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the virus.

Common cleaning practices can help protect yourself from ebola. Washing hands with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer is an effective preventive measure, as well as not touching bodily fluids or objects which may be tainted with fluids from a possible infected individual.

Symptoms of Enterovirus D68 include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.  Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.

The respiratory illness can be spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others.

In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become ill. That’s because they do not yet have immunity from previous exposures to these viruses. Adults can get infected with enteroviruses, but they are more likely to have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

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