6 in Putnam on Ebola watch

First Posted: 10/19/2014

OTTAWA — The Putnam County Health Department reported Sunday that six individuals from the county were at the same bridal shop in Akron as Amber Vinson, the most recent patient to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus.

Putnam County Director of Nursing Sherri Recker said the six were in the Coming Attractions bridal shop in Akron on Oct. 11. The individuals made contact with the Summit County Health Department to receive direction from the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding management of the possible exposure.

“It is believed at this time there was no direct, high-risk contact between Amber Vinson and the Putnam County people involved,” Recker said. “These are all very low-risk exposures.”

A Sunday story in The (Toledo) Blade reported that two of the people from Putnam County were among a list of people being “closely watched” for exposure. However, Recker said that claim was not true.

As a precaution, the Ohio Department of Health advised that the six people should be monitored by the health department. The six are being monitored by having their temperatures taken twice a day for 21 days after the contact. Recker said all six have been healthy and symptom-free.

“Quarantine was not indicated because of the low risk of exposure,” Recker said. “It is important to remember that everyone needs to keep a level head.”

The Ohio Department of Health defines high-risk exposure as skin-to-skin or mucus membrane contact, or contact with blood or body fluids of an infected person.

“We believe there was no direct contact as defined by ODH parameters,” said Putnam County Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Ann Myers. “The residents of Putnam County can be assured that our department is staying in constant contact with all involved parties to ensure the safety of our residents.”

Ebola is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. In addition to being spread through touching of blood or body fluids, it can also possibly be spread through contact of items that may have body fluids on them, such as clothes or bedding. Ebola cannot be spread through the air, food or water. Patients are only contagious when they are symptomatic and show signs of fever.

Others being watched by Ohio health officials reside primarily in the Akron or Cleveland areas and were from Summit County, Cuyahoga County, Medina County, Belmont County, and Portage County.

CDC officials said Vinson could have possibly begun showing symptoms during her trip to the Akron area between Oct. 10 and 13, which prompted authorities to trace and interview all people in Ohio who came in contact with her during those four days, including passengers on the Frontier flights.

While in Ohio she spent most of her time in her family’s home with the exception of visiting the bridal shop.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich led a team of health officials in a news conference Saturday to update Ohioans on the Ebola situation and to urge people to remain calm as the number of people being monitored for possible Ebola exposure has grown from 16 people on Thursday to 87 on Saturday.

Vinson was the second health care worker diagnosed after treating Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at a Dallas hospital. Duncan died Oct. 8. It is believed he was infected by helping a pregnant woman who later died from Ebola.

President Barack Obama has urged Americans not to fall prey to hysteria about Ebola and warned that addressing the deadly virus would require citizens, government leaders, and the media to all pitch in.

Human testing of a Canadian-made vaccine began last week in the United States. Twenty vials of it were sent to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland for testing on about 40 healthy volunteers, Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose said. The Phase 1 trial will determine if the vaccine known as VSV-EBOV is safe for humans, determine the proper dosage level, and test for possible side effects. Studies have shown the vaccine works in primates to prevent infection when given before exposure and increases survival chances when given quickly after exposure.

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