Pitkin County says it’s ready for infectious diseases | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County says it’s ready for infectious diseases

Local public health and government officials gathered in Aspen last week to review and refine plans that are already in place to respond to an infectious disease outbreak in this community should there ever be one. The meeting was convened in response to heightened awareness of Africa's Ebola outbreak, and the first travel-associated case of the disease to be diagnosed in the United States.

Local officials are in communication with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which receives guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

"Our community is well-prepared to respond to infectious diseases," said Liz Stark, director of Pitkin County Community Health Services. "Our local paramedics are highly trained and well-equipped to deal with very sick and contagious individuals. Our hospital infection control systems are state-of-the-art, and our doctors routinely diagnose and treat many other serious infectious diseases. We can swiftly deploy our preparedness plans here should the need arise."

According to the CDC, the risk of Ebola spreading in the United States is low. A person infected with the disease cannot spread it until symptoms appear. Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person.

"It is important that we keep a watchful eye out for this illness in our community since people travel here from all over the world," said Pitkin County Community Health Medical Director Dr. Kimberly Levin.

Levin has recommended that signs be posted at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport asking travelers who may have spent time in West Africa who arrive feeling sick to inform airport officials. Arrangements would be made to have such individuals safely transported to the hospital for an evaluation.

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Detailed information about Ebola, its symptoms and how it is spread is available at http://www.cdc.gov. A telephone helpline, the Colorado Health Emergency Line for Public Information, is also available at 877-462-2911 or 303-389-1687.

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