Governor announces NH protocols for Ebola monitoring

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Plans in place for Brigadier General Corey and Dr. Elizabeth Talbot to self-quarantine.

CONCORD, NH – Continuing efforts to protect the health of New Hampshire citizens, Governor Maggie Hassan announced on Oct. 28 intensive monitoring protocols for any Granite Staters who may have had contact with Ebola patients and all individuals arriving in New Hampshire who have been in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, the three West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, in the previous 21 days.

The announcement comes in the wake of controversy in New Jersey, after Kaci Hickox, a nurse who had returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, was held in mandatory quarantine, even though she had no symptoms. She has threatened to file suit against Gov. Chris Christie.

Hassan says New Hampshire protocol is as follows:

Any returning traveler from an Ebola-affected country who had contact with Ebola patients will be monitored for illness for 21 days following their return while staying in their home. Public health officials will also monitor individuals returning from impacted areas but did not have any direct contact with Ebola patients with temperature checks twice a day for 21 days following the last possible exposure to the illness. The state is asking these individuals to avoid attending large public gatherings and using public transportation, as well as recommending other limits to their mobility. In the event that travelers develop signs or symptoms of possible infection, public health and emergency management officials will coordinate safe transportation for immediate medical attention and evaluation.

Brigadier General Peter Corey
Brigadier General Peter Corey

“Our intensive monitoring protocols are an effective, science-based approach to help protect the health of Granite Staters in the unlikely occurrence of an individual in New Hampshire becoming infected,” Governor Hassan said. “With these measures to closely monitor all individuals returning from the affected countries, we will be able to quickly identify potential cases, provide appropriate and safe care and isolate the patient so that we can prevent the spread of this serious disease. State and local public health and emergency management officials will continue to work closely with health care providers in order to ensure effective response plans. The threat of an outbreak remains low, and I will continue to take actions deemed appropriate by public health experts to ensure that we are prepared to protect the health and safety of our citizens.”

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services will be provided the names and contact information for all travelers from the affected countries with destinations or residing in New Hampshire by the federal government.

“Our public health officials and health care providers treat infectious diseases across the state every day,” said Dr. José T. Montero, Director of the Division of Public Health Services. “The state’s monitoring protocols are an intensive approach to build on our ongoing efforts to develop effective response plans.”

Dr. Elizabeth Talbot
Dr. Elizabeth Talbot

Plans are also in place for Brigadier General Peter Corey, deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Africa who is currently in Liberia, and Dr. Elizabeth Talbot, deputy state epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Human Services and infectious disease doctor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock who leaves for Liberia later this week, to monitor for illness and self-quarantine at home for 21 days upon their return to New Hampshire.

“Brigadier General Corey and Dr. Talbot truly represent the best of the talent and humanitarian spirit that define the Granite State, and we remain incredibly proud for their selfless service to help combat the crisis in West Africa,” Governor Hassan said.

The announcement builds on the coordination efforts between the state, local governments and health care providers to ensure emergency preparedness for Ebola. State public health officials have held several webinars with hospitals, emergency medical services and other health care providers and have produced training videos and other informational resources about what to look for and how to appropriately respond to suspected cases, handle specimens and dispose of waste. The state has also purchased personal protective equipment for use in the most contagious scenarios and continues to participate in all relevant calls with federal partners.

The intensive monitoring protocols were recommended by public health experts, including the Division of Public Health Services and the Section of Infectious Disease and International Health at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. The policy and procedures are effective immediately and will be changed as necessary based on new information from the ongoing national efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola in the U.S.

For more information, visit the Department of Health and Human Services website at www.dhhs.nh.gov. To learn more about Ebola, visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/ebola.htm.

About Carol Robidoux 5451 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.