October 30, 2014

Marshfield emergency responders hold Ebola drill

Emergency responders in Marshfield practiced Wednesday for the possibility of dealing with ebola patients. Ministry St. Joseph’s Hospital transportation director Ted Ryan said proper procedures include encapsulating an ambulance, donning personal protective equipment and loading and delivering Ebola patients.

“We want to slow things down. We want to contain the situation, and make sure that things do not get more escalated,” Ryan said.

Marshfield Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Scott Owen said Ebola preparation is new to his department, but necessary in today’s day-and-age. “It probably won’t happen here, but we can’t take that chance, we have to be prepared just in case,” Owen said.

Owen said newly purchased equipment is based on CDC protocols. He’s putting together four ebola kits per ambulance, plus back-up kits at the station.


State coordinates with hospitals to treat potential Ebola cases

(Image: CDC)

(Image: CDC)

State health officials have determined where any patients who contract the Ebola virus will be sent and has set up transfer plans to get them there.

There have been no diagnosed cases of Ebola in the state and, while State Health Officer Karen McKeown maintains that the risk of anyone contracting the virus in Wisconsin remains extremely low, health care providers have been preparing for the possibility of it happening. Through drills and educational efforts, she says those health partners have been working to make sure they are able to quickly identify and start the treatment of any patients who come through their doors.

McKeown says the state has also identified four hospitals that are best equipped to handle any cases of Ebola; the UW and American Family Children’s Hospitals in Madison, along with Froedtert and Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee have agreed to treat any possible cases in the state. She says those facilities have demonstrated preparedness, and “have the ability to treat a patient with confirmed Ebola throughout the entire course of the disease without interrupting their normal patient care activities.”

Flu season starts out strong

State health officials are urging residents to get their flu shots, with the flu season already starting to pick up in Wisconsin.

So far this year, Wisconsin Department of Health Services spokesperson Claire Smith says elderly patients seem to be getting hit hardest. “Quite a number of the hospitalizations are in the elderly. That’s a majority, and with the H3 strain it tends to hit the elderly harder.” Since the start of October, 20 hospitalizations due to the flu have been recorded in the state, and that number is expected to rise as the winter months approach.

Smith says getting the flu shot is good for you and those around you. She says “if you’re around people who are in a high risk group, you know people who are over age 65, have weakened immune systems, have chronic medical conditions, you not only want to get it to protect yourself but to also help from potentially spreading the flu to them.”

If you do manage to get infected, stay home. “Get rest, don’t be out there and infect others.” Smith says you can spread the flu even before you exhibit symptoms, and kids heading to school and workers heading to the office are great ways to pass the flu around.


Pepin County campylobacter outbreak caused by raw milk

A recent outbreak of campylobacter in Pepin County was caused by raw milk that was served during a Durand High School football team meal.

County Health Officer Heidi Stewart says tests done by the state Ag Department confirmed the source of the virus was milk produced by cows at an area dairy farm. The DNA of the virus that infected students matched the DNA of bacteria found in manure from nine cows.

The outbreak sickened 26 people, many of which were coaches, players, and managers of the football team.

Those infected with Campylobacter can experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.


Wisconsin launches Ebola information line

(Image: CDC)

(Image: CDC)

State health officials are setting up a hotline to answer questions about the Ebola virus.

In addition to information already posted on the state Department of Health Service’s website, the agency has opened a toll free line for state residents who have questions about the Ebola virus.

State Health Officer Karen McKeown says the department is setting up the service because they recognize people are concerned and have questions about the virus. There have been no reported cases of the Ebola virus in Wisconsin and the risk to the public remains extremely low.

The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 1-844-684-1064.