Could Ebola come to Florida? If it does, state government officials say they want to be prepared.
Over the weekend, a Miami hospital tested a patient to rule out Ebola, despite the fact the patient “did not meet the CDC case definition” for the virus, Gov. Rick Scott said, in a release.
“The test is being conducted out of an abundance of caution,” Scott said about the efforts of both the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Florida still does not have any confirmed cases of Ebola, and we hope we never do. But we are taking every preparedness step possible to keep our citizens and our visitors safe.”
Health officials requested 30 additional Ebola testing kits from the CDC, ensuring that all of the state’s 30 public hospitals have the ability to test patients believed to be infected, the governor’s office said. The health department also requested 100 additional units of high-level personal protective equipment to ensure the state is ready to backfill any county whose medical personnel develop a future need for those supplies.
“We know Florida’s hospitals and county health offices are prepared to identify and treat patients who may have Ebola,” Scott said. “While they are prepared on the local level, the state is requesting increased federal resources out of an abundance of caution for the unlikely event that we may have an extended response that warrants additional resources.”
The health department also is working in conjunction with the CDC to determine on a case-by-case basis whether testing for Ebola is necessary. The CDC already has shared detailed recommendations to the state’s hospitals to help detect suspected Ebola among those returned from affected countries, and prevention transmission of the virus within medical facilities.
Health officials also are providing training to counties on how to investigate and respond to people suspected of contracting the virus.
Thomas Eric Duncan travelled to Texas from Liberia last month after contracting the virus, and became one of the first cases to be diagnosed in the United States. He’s currently in critical condition in a Dallas hospital, according to published reports.
Five other Americans returned home after contracting Ebola, including a missionary doctor, and a television news cameraman. One American, Patrick Sawyer, has died, after seeking treatment in a Nigerian hospital.