East Texas health officials optimistic despite 2nd Ebola case in Dallas

East Texas health officials optimistic despite 2nd Ebola case in Dallas

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Angelina County health officials are on alert after a second healthcare worker in Dallas tested positive for Ebola.

"I think it is relevant to East Texas," said Angelina County and Cities Health District Director Sharon Shaw.

Shaw made the comments during the monthly Advisory Board meeting Wednesday morning. Shaw said she does not think the Ebola virus will make it to East Texas but said the area's proximity to Dallas and Houston make it a place that needs to be cautious.

"Travel still seems to be the number one thing we need to ask people when they present into a health care setting," Shaw said.

If the Ebola virus does make it's way to East Texas, emergency rooms will become ground zero for health officials.

"One of our first steps we are going to be taking is to communicate with the Health Department so we can work with them on the best guidance for taking care of that patient and then work with the patient in the emergency department and determine what the next steps are," said Peggy Mortensen, VP of clinical services for CHI St.Lukes hospital in Lufkin.

Woodland Heights Medical Center said they are working closely with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are prepared to follow infection control protocols established by the CDC, beginning with placing the patient in isolation," Jennifer Stevens said. "Medical personnel who enter the room would be protected with gowns, masks, face shields and gloves, and nonessential staff and visitors would be restricted from entering."

Shaw said steps like these help ease fears.

"By no means is there a concern for panic in the East Texas area," Shaw said. "Hospitals are following through with their protocols to be on the safe side and to make sure they practice their standards."

Shaw said the Health District has flyers from the CDC that give information on Ebola that they will be handing out.

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