Pa. health officials monitoring Ebola virus

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says it has been keeping a close eye on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa for the last several months, and now with one confirmed case in Texas, it has sound advice for local health care providers.

Dr. Carrie DeLone is the state’s physician general. She leads a team of doctors who monitor epidemics within the state, like the flu, and those that could come into the state, like Ebola.

“The most important thing is question your patients about their travel history. I can’t emphasize that enough,” DeLone said.

Patients who’ve traveled to West Africa or cared for someone who’s traveled there need to share that information immediately. PinnacleHealth has posted flyers all over waiting areas as a reminder.

“PinnacleHealth is stressing to all of our providers at inpatient and outpatient locations the importance of asking patients about their recent travel or if they’ve cared for someone who has traveled to Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal or Sierra Leone,” PinnacleHealth spokesperson Kelly McCall said.

DeLone emphasizes that although the disease has a high death rate, it is not highly contagious.

“It’s not something that you’re going to catch on a bus, walking down the street, being in a restaurant — those types of situations are not going to put you at risk,” she said. “That’s not the same during influenza season when people cough and spread germs through the air.”

Ebola has killed more than 3,300 people in West Africa. The patient being treated in Dallas, who is from Liberia, remains in serious condition, but doctors insist the virus will be contained in the U.S.

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