Pee Dee prepares for Ebola virus

Katrina Moses, Staff Writer

On Thursday, October 9, the state’s Senate Medical Affairs Committee was told that South Carolina is prepared to treat any residents infected with the Ebola virus.

Catherine Templeton, Director of S.C.’s Department of Health and Environmental control (DHEC) spoke before the Medical Affairs Committee on Thursday. She and Thornton Kirby, President and C.E.O. of S.C. Hospital Association, talked about how South Carolina hospitals are prepared for Ebola.

“There are no suspected or known cases of Ebola in South Carolina,” Templeton said.

Templeton assured the Committee that DHEC has been communicating with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since this summer about controlling Ebola.

Templeton said that they want all first responder to identify, isolate and communicate when they are taking care of possible Ebola patients.

“Identify the symptoms. If suspected, isolate the patient. .  . communicate with DHEC. We’ll take it from there with the CDC,” Templeton said to the committee.

Kirby reiterated that information.

“We know that our hospitals prepare their staff- they are educated and properly trained- and that they’re vigilant,” Kirby said.

He also said that they want everyone educated on what to do if they were to get a patient

who may possibly have Ebola. In order to be prepared, they have practice drills to assist in keeping people safe. On top of that, they wear protective gear to handle possible victims, and there are isolation rooms for patients with symptoms.

If a person believes they are infected with Ebola, Kirby wants the individual to go to urgent care, or the emergency room. He said that it would be best for the individual to not sit in the waiting room because that will only spread the disease.

Infected persons can transmit Ebola through blood or body fluids.  It can also spread through direct contact of unprotected, broken skin or through mucus membranes, like the eyes or the lining of the mouth. For example, an individual may increase their chances of getting Ebola if they do not cover a cut on their hand. If they were to have contact with a person infected with Ebola, they have increased their chances of contracting it as well.

There are certain symptoms that are caused by Ebola: fever, severe muscle aches, diarrhea, nausea, and rashes. The issue with that is sometimes these are symptoms of common colds. Which is why doctors will inquire patients about previous traveling experiences. They ask because an individual may have been in an area with high traces of Ebola.

A case can be confirmed when a sample of the patient’s bodily fluids tests positive for Ebola in both a state laboratory and a CDC laboratory.