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Public Health

Ebola ‘hot zone’ immigrants numerous in ATL area

About 90 percent of Georgia residents who were born in two Ebola-ravaged West African nations live in six metro Atlanta counties, a map produced by public health officials shows.

That map, along with one charting refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone, was created by the Department of Public Health to help its “outreach and educational efforts” on Ebola, said DPH spokesman Ryan Deal.

“This is especially important as the holidays approach, giving rise to increased travel as families unite,’’ Deal said in an email to GHN.

The agency did not calculate the numbers of people living in Georgia from Guinea, the third West African country devastated by the current outbreak of the disease.

Meanwhile on Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal announced new, tougher monitoring measures for people who have come into contact with Ebola patients in Africa. Some travelers would be subject to quarantine under the new policy even if they showed no symptoms of the disease.

Broad quarantines are being implemented elsewhere. New Jersey and New York introduced strict regulations last week, followed quickly by Illinois. The regulations apply to aid workers operating in West Africa, regardless of whether they have shown symptoms of the deadly virus.

West_African_map2(Click map to enlarge)

Since the summer, much Ebola-related activity has occurred in Atlanta and Georgia. The CDC has more than 100 workers in the three West African nations and operates a special SWAT-like team to respond to new infections in the United States. full story

Public health chief to lead state’s Ebola team

The head of Georgia’s public health agency will chair Gov. Nathan Deal’s 13-member Ebola response team. Her appointment and those of the other members were announced Monday.

Joining Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, a physician and commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, are two health leaders from Emory Healthcare.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald

Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, was the first American facility to receive an Ebola patient and has treated four. Three have already recovered and been released. (The third was released Sunday after being determined to be free of the virus, Emory announced Monday.) The fourth patient, a recently infected Texas nurse, arrived at Emory just last week.

The Emory officials on the team are Dr. William Bornstein, chief quality and medical officer at Emory Healthcare, and Susan Grant, chief nurse executive at Emory.

The Deal response team will assess current health and emergency management procedures and formulate recommendations to minimize the potential impact of Ebola in Georgia. full story

Deal forming response team for potential Ebola risk

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Sunday that he is creating a special team to assess Georgia’s preparedness for the Ebola crisis.

The response team will make necessary recommendations to minimize any potential impact of the disease in Georgia.

“Rest assured, Georgia is taking the threat of the Ebola virus seriously,” Deal said in a statement. “By combining the expertise of the health and research communities with our state agencies, Georgia will be uniquely positioned to combat the risks of Ebola should the need arise.”

An electron micrograph of an Ebola virus "virion"

An electron micrograph of an Ebola virus “virion”


Members of the group will include representatives of Emory University Hospital, which has treated four people with Ebola, including a Dallas nurse recently infected who arrived at the facility last week.

A GHN article last week reported that the state’s public health agency has boosted its outreach efforts to Georgia health workers and hospitals on dealing with the potential of Ebola infection here. full story

Latest Ebola-infected nurse headed to Emory

A nurse identified as the second Dallas hospital worker to test positive for Ebola is being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Amber Vinson, 29, would be the fourth person with Ebola to be treated in Emory’s special isolation unit. She is expected to arrive late Wednesday.

Emory said in a statement Wednesday that the CDC and Texas Health Resources specifically requested that the patient be transferred to Emory.

Emory University Hospital

Emory University Hospital


Emory’s infectious disease unit is where the first two Ebola patients in the United States were treated. The two American medical missionaries, who caught the disease while in West Africa, were successfully treated and released in August.

A third person with Ebola arrived at Emory on Sept. 9 and has been in the special unit since then. On Wednesday, that patient, who has not been publicly identified, released a statement that said in part:

“Given the national focus on Ebola, particularly with the diagnosis in two health care workers, I want to share the news that I am recovering from this disease, and that I anticipate being discharged very soon, free from the Ebola virus and able to return safely to my family and to my community.” full story

Is Georgia doing enough on Ebola?

The state’s public health agency says it has boosted its outreach efforts to Georgia health workers and hospitals on dealing with the potential of Ebola infection here.

The effort – involving disseminating information and CDC protocols about handling a potential Ebola case – comes amid mounting national concern about the virus, which has led to the recent death of a man in Texas and the infection of a nurse who treated him.

Eight Atlanta hospitals have expressed a willingness to treat a potential Ebola patient here, Dr. Patrick O’Neal, director of health protection for the Department of Public Health, told GHN on Tuesday.

Dr. Patrick O'Neal

Dr. Patrick O’Neal

He also said he believes it’s inevitable that a case of Ebola will be diagnosed in Georgia. (Emory University Hospital in Atlanta has already treated cases of Ebola, and in fact was the first U.S. facility ever to do so. But those patients were flown in from the epidemic zone in West Africa and treated in a special isolation ward.)

Public Health says it has communicated its guidelines to all licensed physicians, physician assistants, educators and emergency medical services providers. The agency also is working closely with the Georgia Hospital Association, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, told the agency’s board.

The Public Health response to the Ebola crisis also comes as an influential Georgia legislator is urging the agency to be proactive in protecting Georgians from the disease, which has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa.

State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), who led the legislative charge earlier this year to curtail the Affordable Care Act in Georgia, wrote Fitzgerald a letter dated this past Sunday in which he questioned the response by the state and federal governments in combating Ebola. full story

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