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Maryland Health Officials Unveil Ebola Strategy

Day 190/365: University of Maryland Medical Center taken by wenzday via flickr
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Maryland’s health and hospital officials announced a statewide strategy today to diagnose and treat Ebola, if any cases were to arise. No Ebola infections have surfaced in Maryland, but those suspected of having the virus would have their blood tested at the state’s public health lab, one of only 13 in the country authorized to test for Ebola.

If a test proves positive, the patient would be transferred to a federal health care facility, such as the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. The other three are in Nebraska, Montana and Georgia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta would work with Maryland health department officials to determine if and where a federal facility is available. If none have openings, the patient would be treated at either Johns Hopkins Hospital or the University of Maryland Medical Center, both in Baltimore, or MedStar Washington Hospital Center in the District of Columbia. 

State officials say the strategy will lead to better treatment and dissemination of updates on the disease. “This consolidated, coordinated, response provides the best opportunity to treat Ebola patients successfully and prevent the disease from spreading further, should we have any cases in Maryland,” Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said in a press release.

Health care workers at the three hospitals are receiving additional, intensive training on treating Ebola patients and use of protective gear. 

In addition, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency has established an information center to provide updates and guidance on the virus across state agencies. Health care workers and the general public can receive Ebola updates on the state health department’s Web site at http://dhmh.maryland.gov/ebola