During this month, we typically remind ourselves and others to prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters, and to have our home preparedness plans ready. However, a select few of us in public health are always preparing for the next big disease outbreak; a human health issue of disastrous proportions!
We are coming up to five years since we had our first Ebola case, which landed in Dallas from Liberia. Back then, all public health-related agencies and organizations in the metro area erupted in a frenzy of activity in response. We knew we were the front line in this battle. WE KNEW IT WAS UP TO US TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF EBOLA INTO THE UNITED STATES!
We were successful. And after that, everything went back to normal for most people. Many have forgotten all about it. But not this health department!
We have been watching with trepidation the Ebola outbreak that is now emerging in The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC outbreak has grown to over 3,000 cases and close to 2,000 deaths. It is still small compared to the 28,000 cases we saw in Liberia in 2014. However, the World Health Organization issued a memo in July calling this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, with a risk of spilling over to other countries.
The situation has improved a little since then; however, Tarrant County Public Health has been preparing. We refreshed our Ebola Preparedness plans, and to put those to the test by conducting two table top exercises this month. The first was a regional exercise involving health departments from Tarrant, Dallas, Denton and Collin Counties. The second one was a Tarrant County-only exercise with local partners ranging from Tarrant County Emergency Management, Tarrant County First Responders, our hospital partners, local government leadership, and many others. Over 150 participants took part in both exercises. There are always lessons to be learned from such exercises; however, what is truly reassuring is that we are more prepared!
Click here to read more indepth about what we did.
Best of health to you and yours,
Verrinder "Vinny" Taneja
Director, Tarrant County Public Health
County Telephone Operator 817-884-1111
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