Gov. Mike Pence appeared on a webcast with health care workers Thursday to talk about Ebola and the state’s preparations should the disease arrive in the state.
“At this time, we have no reported cases of Ebola virus in Indiana,” Pence said. “However, there is no doubt that the Ebola virus has been a cause for international concern and is a growing concern here in the U.S., now more than ever.”
Pence joined incoming State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams – who was appointed just Wednesday – to say the state has managed emerging diseases in the past, including the H1N1 Pandemic Flu in 2009 and the first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome earlier this year.
“The professionalism, dedication and medical expertise demonstrated by our public health and health care community during these and other outbreaks gives me confidence that we are prepared to effectively respond to Ebola in our state, should we get a case,” Pence said.
The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 3,800 people, most of them in West Africa, where the epidemic is centered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Six people have been treated in the United States for the disease, although five of them were diagnosed overseas and flown back to the U.S. for treatment. The sixth – a Liberian – became ill while visiting Dallas, where he died while in treatment.
The CDC and the Department of Homeland Security announced it will begin new layers of entry screening at five U.S. airports that receive more than 94 percent of travelers from the Ebola-affected nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Indianapolis is not the list but the nearby Chicago-O’Hare airport will implement the new screening next week.
In Indiana, the State Department of Health has been working to track the virus and learn lessons from Texas and Nebraska, where Ebola patients have been or are being treated. The CDC has released guidelines to help hospitals and health care workers identify patients who might be suffering from Ebola and move them into isolation quickly.
“As health care providers, you are on the frontlines of this and other battles with infectious diseases,” Pence told those on the call. “Working together, we will be prepared to face the challenges posed by managing and treating any emerging disease.”