The first case of Ebola to develop on US soil was confirmed yesterday by the CDC, sparking new fears that a potential widespread outbreak is at hand. But should we be concerned? The short answer is “no.”

Why is there little cause for alarm?

In a press release, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, admits that, “Ebola can be scary. But there’s all the difference in the world between the US and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading. The United States has a strong health care system and public health professionals who will make sure this case does not threaten our communities.” Even if there are additional cases stemming from this incident, there is no doubt these professionals will be able to contain it.

Another factor for little concern is the timing of the patient’s development of symptoms. He exhibited no symptoms while traveling. This is an important note as Ebola is only contagious when symptoms are shown.

The CDC has infection control recommendations that Dallas Hospital officials are following. In fact, the CDC has been proactively preparing for a case of Ebola to develop in the US by:

  • Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases
  • Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations
  • Providing recommendations for healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
  • Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
  • Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners

What can you do to put your employees’ minds at ease?

Preparing for Ebola (or any other pandemic event) will demonstrate to your employees your understanding of their fears and your concern for their safety. The following is a list of ways you can help ease their minds.

1.      Communicate. Email your employees to let them know you are monitoring the situation and will keep an open line of communication as the situation develops. If you have a comprehensive pandemic plan, remind them it exists.

2.      Review your pandemic plan. Now is the time to review your pandemic plan. If you do not currently have a pandemic plan, Preparis can help you devise one.

3.      Conduct a tabletop exercise. Performing the pandemic tabletop exercise already loaded in your portal will allow leadership to think about what should be done should a pandemic occur. As the winter months approach, any number of illnesses can impact your company and cause a significant reduction in workforce. This exercise help you determine how to handle this reduction. If you need assistance or would like a customized tabletop, contact our staff.

4.      Ensure traveling employees are informed. Not only should employees traveling overseas know which countries are at-risk for Ebola and other infectious diseases, they should also be informed on how to receive healthcare overseas if needed.

5.      Reiterate this is not a time to panic. As the media continue to cover the situation, new information will develop which will likely increase or at least sustain fears of an Ebola outbreak spreading the nation. Reiterating to your employees the reduced likelihood Ebola will spread will help curb those fears; however, practicing your pandemic plan will go a long way by increasing your employees’ confidence in their preparedness just in case something does go wrong. If you need help with those plans, contact us.

How can Preparis help you staying informed?

We are monitoring the Ebola situation closely and are in touch with public health experts, so expect more information from us. In the meantime, you can review our previous blog post on Ebola and Business Continuity here, follow our @Preparis Twitter feed for updates, or contact your Client Services Representative for more information by calling 404.662.2965.

Marlia Fontaine-Weisse is the Content Manager for Preparis.