Ebola Monitoring Nearly Complete In Ohio; State Health Official Contemplates Future Responses

Flickr.com photo by NIAID.
Flickr.com photo by NIAID.
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Three weeks ago, Amber Joy Vinson tested positive for Ebola after flying back to Dallas after visiting the Akron area. That sent Northeast Ohio officials on high alert….and triggered questions from the general public as to whether or not the disease would ravage the state.

Fast forward to today…and there remain no confirmed cases of Ebola in Ohio.

State epidemiologist Mary DiOrio says immediate coordination between state and federal health officials ensured an efficient response. This included tracking potentially infected people. DiOrio says this came mostly from airline passenger lists, though there still remained challenges…like finding those who may have contacted Vinson at an Akron bridal shop.

“When you do have individuals who travel to retail establishments you do have to depend on social networks and media to get information out so that people then let you know if they were in those retail establishments," says DiOrio. "So that’s one thing that I think we did very very well, but we’re going to have to think about is there another way to make sure that if we have a situation like this in the future, that we can quickly reach out to people that maybe we don’t have a list of names for.”

DiOrio says location tagging and other social media mapping features could play a role. She says the Ohio Department of Health will be reviewing Northeast Ohio’s response more in full, to share best practices with the rest of the state for future Ebola cases.

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