IDPH Provides Update on State’s Preparedness Efforts for Ebola

CHICAGO – Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, joined by local health department, hospital, health care and emergency response officials, held a media briefing today to update the public about Ebola preparedness efforts in Illinois.

“Governor Quinn has directed the Illinois Department of Public Health to take every step necessary to ensure that Illinois’ hospitals, health care workers and residents are safe and prepared in the event of a confirmed Ebola case,” Dr. Hasbrouck said. “Information and education are the best ways to protect yourself, which is why we’ve activated the Ebola hotline and website.

“At the Governor’s direction, we are also assembling an Ebola task force made up of medical, health care, emergency response and state officials to further strengthen our ability to respond to Ebola.”

Illinois residents with questions about Ebola can call the Ebola hotline at 800-889-3931 or visit www.ebola.illinois.gov.

Governor Quinn has directed IDPH to assemble a task force to ensure residents and hospitals across the state are informed and prepared to address Ebola. The full task force will be announced shortly.

While any hospital in Illinois that follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) infections control recommendations and can isolate a patient in a private room can care for a patient, a designated hospital will have staff with Ebola-specific training.

The CDC recently designated Illinois as one of the few states able to perform Ebola testing. The IDPH laboratory has received the reagents (testing supplies) and IDPH is in the process of validating the test and training staff to perform it.

CDC will require IDPH to consult on every specimen that is submitted to determine if testing is authorized. Once CDC authorizes testing, one sample will be tested at IDPH and the other will be sent to CDC for confirmatory testing.

To date, there have been no persons in Illinois showing any symptoms that have warranted Ebola testing. We will continue to communicate with the public and will report any situation that involves testing for Ebola.

Handling disease outbreaks is a core public health function and the state is prepared to conduct surveillance for possible cases, implement infection control measures, support medical facilities, perform contact tracing and assist with laboratory testing. IDPH will continue to work with the CDC, local health departments, hospitals and medical facilities.

Preparedness steps IDPH has taken to prepare for a suspect or confirmed Ebola case in Illinois:

  • Provided guidance on laboratory specimen submission and case management.
  • Tested established public health systems to ensure contact tracing is readily available.
  • Created a Web portal with information for IDPH health care partners.
  • Established an Ebola hotline.
  • Completed a CDC online assessment of our emergency preparedness and response activities related to Ebola.
  • Participated in national Ebola-related teleconferences.

IDPH will continue to provide all updated CDC guidance through SIREN (State of Illinois Rapid Electronic Notification) to appropriate audiences (infection control professionals, infectious disease physicians, laboratories, local health departments, health care providers, health care facilities, EMS systems).