Doctor: Michigan is “alert, vigilant and prepared” for Ebola

Posted at 5:40 PM, Oct 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-02 03:44:40-04

LANSING, Mich. -- Health officials across the country and in Michigan are on high alert following the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States.

In the event the deadly disease makes its way to Michigan, health officials are already focused on how to respond.

The state's top doctor is crediting the response to enterovirus D68 (ED68) as an example of how Michigan would respond to Ebola.

"This isn't a situation where we're caught unaware," said Dr. Matthew Davis, the chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health. "We are alert and vigilant and prepared for the possibility of a case (of Ebola) presenting at one of our Michigan hospitals."

"There are hundreds, even thousands, of cases of enterovirus D68, which means it’s much more of a concern in terms of the number of people affected than hopefully Ebola ever will be in the United States," said Davis.

MDCH was alerted to the threat of ED68 through its Syndromic Surveillance System, a network of hospitals that identifies symptoms in people who need emergency care. The same system would be used to alert health care workers across the state in the event Ebola makes its way to Michigan.

"There is daily, even hourly, communication between the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," explained Dr. Davis. "There is also communication among the different state departments of public health."

The main reason doctors and other health care workers in Michigan are more focused on ED68 is because of how easily it can spread.

"(It's) because of what are called respiratory droplets that you might have in a sneeze or a cough, or on a doorknob from somebody who has recently sneezed or coughed," Davis said.

It's different from the way Ebola is spread.

"One of the things I want to stress is that it is very difficult to transmit Ebola from person to person," said Dr. Davis. "The only way to spread Ebola, first of all, is if the person has symptoms and, second of all, if a person has symptoms and has direct contact through bodily fluids of another person."

For more information on ED86, click here.

More information on Ebola can be found here.