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10/16/2014 - Mayor Finch Briefed on Hospital, First Responder Preparedness on Ebola

“We know that the risk of a widespread outbreak of the Ebola virus in America is very, very low. But it’s critical that if necessary, we’re ready to deal with the worst case scenario. We must be vigilant and prepared. We’re doing just that.” – Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch

Bridgeport, Conn. (October 16, 2014) –  Mayor Bill Finch spoke with officials from Bridgeport Hospital and Saint Vincent’s Medical Center Thursday and was briefed on protocols for treating patients who exhibit Ebola-like symptoms.

“We know that the risk of a widespread outbreak of the Ebola virus in America is very, very low,” said Mayor Finch, after Yale-New Haven Hospital reported a person who had recently returned from Liberia was admitted and placed in isolation after experiencing a fever. “But it’s critical that if necessary, we’re ready to deal with the worst case scenario. We must be vigilant and prepared. We’re doing just that.”

Mayor Finch has been briefed by staff at both hospitals in the city. Both hospitals have instituted training to keep their medical staff safe while still providing the highest level of medical care for any potential patient.

The Police and Fire Departments have reinforced universal safety precautions for all of their first responders. Mayor Finch stressed that the measures were precautionary and began prior to the patient being treated at Y-NHH.

In the Fire Department, for example, firefighters are screening all patients during medical calls by asking a series of basic questions.

“We have been closely monitoring the events in Dallas, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the people there who have contracted or potentially been exposed to the virus,” said Mayor Finch.  “I also understand why people are concerned here. The risk is extremely low, but we are prepared.”

Mayor Finch and the city Department of Public Health have been working to proactively educate the public about how infectious diseases like Ebola and enterovirus are contracted -- and what preventive measures people can take to help prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Ebola is a rare virus found in several African countries.

To protect from Ebola:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do NOT touch the blood or body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) of people who are sick.
  • Do NOT handle items that may have come in contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, like clothes, bedding, needles, or medical equipment.

Information about Ebola: ion about Ebola:

  • The likelihood of getting Ebola is extremely low unless there is direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids (like urine, saliva, feces, vomit, sweat, and semen) of a person who has Ebola or through direct handling of bats, rodents, or nonhuman primates from areas with Ebola outbreaks.
  • Early symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, body aches, cough, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Other illnesses, such as influenza or malaria, are often ruled out before Ebola testing.
  • Chlorine disinfection, heat, direct sunlight, soaps and detergents can kill the Ebola virus.
  • Ebola is only "moderately" contagious. Most people who have become infected lived with or cared for an ill patient. In the rare event that a person infected with Ebola was unknowingly transported by air, the risks to other passengers are low because close contact with body fluids is required for infection.
  • There's no vaccine to prevent Ebola and medications to treat the virus are experimental. Currently, the best treatment for Ebola is supportive care; fluids, oxygen, rest and keeping blood pressure steady. Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus.
  • Medical facilities in the U.S. are better equipped to handle Ebola, unlike conditions currently being experienced in West Africa. Widespread infection is not likely, due to the advanced medical capabilities of the United States.
  • Fever (greater than 101.5 F), severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal (stomach) pain, unexpected hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising).
  • Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
  • Persons who feel they have been exposed to Ebola should self-isolate themselves and avoid contact with other individuals. Medical attention should be sought immediately.

For more information, visit the CDC’s web page for Ebola at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/.