The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is reassuring the public that no immediate threat exists to Oklahoma residents from the Ebola case confirmed at a hospital in Dallas. At this time, the case is isolated and transmission of the disease cannot occur without direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected patient. OSDH officials will continue to work with hospitals and provide up-to-date communication, guidance and tools to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens.

Oklahoma/ National Atlas of the United States
Oklahoma/ National Atlas of the United States

Since the Ebola epidemic escalated in West Africa this summer, the OSDH began communicating status updates and CDC guidance to Oklahoma healthcare providers and hospitals.

“We will continue to work with medical providers and hospitals regarding the use of screening procedures to rapidly identify any potential cases of Ebola virus disease to ensure that appropriate infection control procedures are implemented”, said Dr. Kristy Bradley, State Epidemiologist.  “These are the same procedures that hospitals are prepared to use on a daily basis.”

As part of the state’s public health emergency preparedness program, Oklahoma’s hospitals have been putting measures in place to handle a variety of emerging infectious disease threats.

“We are confident that our healthcare system can effectively respond to a case of Ebola virus disease. The case in Texas is a reminder to hospitals to review and exercise their plans”, said Bradley.

Governor Mary Fallin reminded Oklahoma residents that they should not be concerned about traveling to Texas or making any changes to their normal daily routine.

“I am confident that health officials in Oklahoma have taken appropriate precautions and are prepared,” said Fallin. “We need to remain vigilant to the threat of Ebola, but there is certainly no reason to panic.”

Bradley stated that in the event a suspected case of Ebola is identified, the OSDH will rapidly assist in shipping specimens to the CDC for laboratory testing, ensure the patient is isolated, and begin tracing of close contacts that may have been exposed to the infected person. Ebola is a serious disease, but modern healthcare infection control practices and the standard public health procedures routinely used to control other serious infectious diseases will contain Ebola.