Maine Center for Disease Control Releases Ebola Protocols for Healthcare Workers
The Maine Center for Disease Control has released its protocol for dealing with healthcare workers who have had contact with Ebola patients or traveled to areas affected by the infectious disease. This includes travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Maine CDC officals said in a press release on Monday that the state has established protocols for the monitoring of anyone who returns to Maine after traveling from the impacted areas of West Africa. These protocols are based on guidelines of the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention. There are two basic categories of travelers and associated protocols. The release sent by John Martins, Communications Director for the Department of Health and Human Services says the protocols may be adapted as appropriate on a case-by-case basis.
The first protocol applies to a traveler who did not come into direct contact with Ebola positive individuals and who is not currently exhibiting symptoms of the disease. It states that the person will be required to make contact daily with the Maine CDC to report his or her temperature, which is taken twice daily. In addition, they will be required to notify the Maine CDC immediately of any other Ebola symptoms. Symptoms include headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, or abnormal bleeding. They must also notify the CDC of any additional travel plans.
Currently, there is one traveler in Maine who is being monitored by the CDC. That individual did not come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for Ebola.
The second protocol applies to any traveler who did come into direct contact with or treated Ebola-positive individuals and who is not currently exhibiting symptoms of the disease. In this case, Maine will require active monitoring to be followed. In addition, Maine will take further measures, out of an abundance of caution, to ensure public safety.
The CDC will work collaboratively with the affected person to establish a quarantine in his or her own home for 21 days after the last possible exposure to Ebola. 21 days is the longest time it can take from the time a person is infected with Ebola until that person has symptoms of the disease, according to the CDC.
The press release goes on to state that the protocol for higher risk individuals will be put into action for the first time when a healthcare worker who came into contact with Ebola patients returns soon from New Jersey. Under this policy, officials continue, Maine will make every possible effort to implement an agreed-upon in-home quarantine. The Maine CDC will coordinate care services such as food and medicine, if it's needed.
While the Maine CDC couldn't identify the healthcare worker in its press release, the person coming to Maine from New Jersey is Kaci Hickox, who plans to self-quarantine at a residence in Fort Kent where she lives with her boyfriend. Hickox threatened to sue New Jersey officials after they forced her into quarantine in a large tent.
The Maine CDC's protocol release goes on to say that in either case, if the traveler develops symptoms, protocols will be initiated to transport the patient to the proper health facility for immediate treatment. Ebola, it states, is transmitted only if an individual has direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from a person who is showing symptoms. It is not an airborne disease, nor can a person get Ebola when they have contact with a person who is not showing symptoms.
A follow-up release was sent later on Tuesday with the following statement:
"While the State cannot release specific details about any one individual, we can confirm that all known travelers returning from West Africa to Maine are cooperating with State health officials at this time."