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Health fair had shots, screenings and Ebola info

St. Mary's County Health Department Director of Public Health Preparedness and Response Melanie Gardiner gave a briefing on Ebola at the Health Fair

California, MD -- Hundreds of people attended the free Annual St. Mary’s County Health Fair on Friday to receive flu shots, take advantage of health screenings, visit health-related booths and to hear several seminars, including one on the county’s Ebola preparation. The event sponsored by the St. Mary’s County Department of Aging and Human Services was held at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center.

The health-related screenings included leg and vein, skin cancer, blood pressure, hearing, vision and fall assessment. Information and resources addressing a variety of health related topics were presented at booths in the hallways and in the main meeting room by more than 75 government, non-profit and for profit entities.
The flu shots were provided by MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.

A commercial shredder truck was available for a portion of the day.

Several lectures were conducted, including one on identity theft and another from the Legal Aid Bureau.

Director of Public Health Preparedness and Response for the St. Mary’s County Health Department Melanie Gardiner gave a briefing on Ebola and what St. Mary’s County is doing to prepare for it.

Gardiner explained that Ebola was first identified in 1976 and comes in five different virus strains. The current one that started in Africa is called Zaire ebolavirus. It was originally transmitted to humans from fruit bats and/or primates.

Ebola is transmitted from human to human by direct contact with body fluids of someone with the Ebola virus or by objects contaminated with Ebola Virus body fluids, such as soiled linens, needles, gloves, gowns, masks and medical equipment.
The symptom progression of the Ebola virus is: fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting (stomach pain) and unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising).

Gardiner said the virus could remain in a man’s semen for three months after the man recovers from the virus.

If infected, rooms need to be disinfected and material incinerated or auto locked. Deceased persons need to be incinerated or put in an airtight casket.

The incubation period for Ebola is two to 21 days, with the most common time period 8-10 days. After 21 days if the person has not developed symptoms they will not become sick.

There is no current FDA-approved treatment for Ebola although researches are frantically searching for one. “Early supportive care improves chances of survival,” Gardiner said. That includes IV fluids and electrolytes.

The best prevention ii to avoid contact using Personal Protective Equipment and proper handling of waste and remains. Other prevention measures include monitoring for fever and other symptoms after exposure, and quarantine.

Gardiner says the state of Maryland and the St. Mary’s County Health Department have prepared protocols in the event of a case occurring here. Preparedness includes communication with the public, and training for health care workers and first responders.

Drills have been held to test protocols, skills and preparedness.

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