Ebola 101: outbreak and response

Ebola strain pictured.
Image of the Ebola strain. Used under a creative commons license agreed to by the CDC Public Health Image Library.

On Sept. 29, the Emerging Pathogens Institute presented an overview of Ebola and the recent outbreak to the Florida Congressional Delegation and the Board of Governors. With the number of Ebola cases growing exponentially, EPI believes it is important to be informed on the disease and how it is spreading in West Africa and all around the world.

“One of the major contributors to the transmission of disease is lack of knowledge,” said Dr. J. Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute. “One of the goals of the Emerging Pathogens Institute is to help educate the medical community as well as policy makers about diseases like Ebola in order to optimize response and overall global health.”

Various doctors and public health professionals participated in the presentation. Dr. John Lednicky, associate professor and co-chair for Environmental and Global Health at UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, gave an overview of Ebola virus, symptoms and transmission.

Dr. Paul Psychas, assistant professor in UF College of Medicine, talked about the large outbreak in West Africa and the lack of resources to treat all of the patients and ensure safe burial of those who died from the virus. Psychas states that the Ebola outbreak, which severely affects Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, is the first in the region and is by far the largest and most complex. Psychas also offered some short- and long-term needs in order to contain outbreak.

UF Health Epidemiologist Dr. Nicole Iovine gave an overview of UF’s response to the Ebola threat as the expectation of patients with virus coming to UF Health for treatment grows. UF Health plans to detect cases as quickly and accurately as possible, protect employees, and respond appropriately.

Dr. Anna Likos, Florida Department of Health epidemiologist, said that Florida’s response is to keep everyone informed about Ebola with Center of Disease Control alerts and updates, statewide webinars, informational letters to health care providers, and other resources. The Florida Department of Health Miami-Dade Laboratory has been designated as one of 13 national labs selected for Ebola testing capacity.