DALLAS, Texas — Tuesday afternoon, Fort Worth City Council held a briefing update on Ebola Virus Disease in the city, Tarrant County and addressing surrounding regions in the fight against the first cases of Ebola in the United States diagnosed in neighboring Dallas, Texas.
Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja and City of Fort Worth Emergency Management Coordinator Juan Ortiz addressed the room. Tanaja, only on the job a few long weeks now, began his presentation with information and history on the disease.
He stated that in the Tarrant county area, numerous individuals are under watch, but all are doing so voluntarily and none showing signs or symptoms of Ebola virus disease. Rumors have swirled related to a Twitter posted company email regarding Ebola-stricken nurse Nina Pham’s boyfriend who some claim lives in Tarrant County. When asked about the boyfriend, officials cited privacy and that no Ebola cases are currently present in Tarrant County.
Tuesday’s presentation also covered current guidelines on Ebola contagion and who is at risk for contracting the disease. Taneja gave out the number for a Tarrant county Ebola information hotline, 817-248-6299, where about 10 persons at a time are enlisted to provide general Ebola information based on government released reports.
New hospital guidelines have been released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Taneja said that staff have reviewed and are ready to confer with healthcare partners on this. He later added that they are also anticipating separate, new guidelines for Emergency Medical Services.
Ortiz followed up stating the City of Fort Worth has been working on an Ebola response since first case started in Dallas. He pointed out that the CDC continues “re-evaluating this situation.”
Adressing whether animals could contract Ebola, Ortiz said there have been no reports of cats or dogs becoming ill and no infection connection between dogs and humans thus far. Whether wild animals could transmit the disease was not directly addressed. However, Ortiz did say that the CDC will be issuing guidelines for care of pets with possible Ebola exposure. In the meantime, any Ebola exposed pets are being monitored for the human incubation period for the disease, 21 days.
The presentation closed out with discussion of an Ebola Community Outreach Plan, which city and county officials hope to use to “raise community awareness of Ebola virus disease.”
“We’ve learned a lot” through the Dallas situation added Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.
After the meeting, in an interview with Breitbart Texas, Taneja focused on the high number of people, approximately 35,000, that die from the flu virus each year. When asked about his opinion of how Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins handled the Ebola outbreak in that region, Taneja said the situation between the two counties is very different as Dallas county had active cases of Ebola, reiterating that Tarrant county has not had any.
When asked about the 21-day incubation period and whether this was enough given World Health Organization records that state only 95% of Ebola cases present within 21 days, Taneja said the standard period in 21 days and that twice the incubation period, 42 days, is the World Health Organization’s standard for considering a region officially free of the disease. However, it was noted during the presentation that most cases present within 21 days.
In a post presentation interview with Breitbart Texas, Ortiz pointed to the lack of Ebola cases transmitted through community contact. No information on confirmed cases of Ebola have been released to the public; however, the lack and denial of information in potential cases coming through hospitals has led to significant public mistrust.
A town hall meeting regarding Ebola will be held Wednesday evening near Dallas in Garland, Texas.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana