October 17, 2014
Dear Elected Officials in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties:
Since the onset of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) has been working closely with its partners in Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties, as well as neighboring jurisdictions, to prepare for the possibility of a case being identified in Colorado. These efforts have increased over the past several weeks with the identification of the first U.S.-diagnosed case in Texas. I want to briefly update you on TCHD’s Ebola-related activities and also share with you a news release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) that provides an overview of the collaborative efforts of health care and public health organizations across Colorado (click here).
Our goals at this point are two-fold: to prepare for an effective response to an Ebola case in our jurisdiction should one occur, and to provide sufficient information to our residents to keep them objectively informed without undue anxiety.
Fortunately, through many years of preparedness work, we have built the partnerships and the infrastructure needed to get right to work preparing to respond to an Ebola case. TCHD regularly hosts a jurisdictional Healthcare Coalition with partners from a number of disciplines including Emergency Medical Service providers, Hospitals, Coroners, Behavioral Health and Emergency Management. We convened this group on Tuesday to run through various scenarios that could arise in the event that a case is identified in our jurisdiction.
In addition, last week TCHD established an Incident Command Structure to effectively coordinate both internal and external planning and response efforts. With our hospital partners, we are implementing plans to prepare for rapid identification of a new case, implementing Ebola-specific infection control practices for isolation of the case and protection of hospital staff, and conducting case contact investigation and monitoring to keep our community safe. In addition, disease control efforts will include judicious use of quarantine and isolation orders when appropriate.
Finally, TCHD staff have been reviewing the information from CDC, CDPHE and other states managing Ebola patients to keep up-to-date on the evolving recommendations and best practices for controlling Ebola. We are regularly sharing information through our website, www.tchd.org, Twitter, @TCHDHealth, and our Health Alert Network (HAN) and also referring questions from the public to the Colorado Helpline (CO-HELP) at 303-389-1687.
We appreciate your support as we proceed with efforts to address our twin goals of preparedness and communication regarding Ebola for our jurisdiction. Please feel free to contact me by email or phone (720-200-1535) if you have questions or concerns.
John M. Douglas, Jr., MD
Tri-County Health Department
Date: July 29, 2014
Nancy Braden, Health Communications
Jefferson County Public Health
Tularemia Warning in Jefferson County
Jefferson County, Colorado – A rabbit specimen collected from a private home in the vicinity of the town of Bow Mar in Jefferson County, Colorado has tested positive for tularemia. Tularemia is a disease of animals and humans caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. It is also called “rabbit fever” and rabbits, hares, beavers and rodents are especially susceptible. Humans can also be infected with the bacteria, which is treatable with appropriate antibiotics.
Tularemia does not spread from person to person. Tularemia occurs year-round throughout the United States, except in Hawaii. In Colorado, there are generally two peak seasons: in May associated with tick bites and in October and November associated with rabbit hunting season. Colorado reports a few human cases of tularemia every year. “Tularemia is not uncommon in Colorado and the risk to the public is very low in this instance,” states JCPH Environmental Health Services Director, Jim Rada.
JCPH advises citizens to follow basic safety precautions to avoid exposure to animal-borne diseases, including:
- do not handle sick or dead animals, instruct children to leave wildlife alone
- wash hands thoroughly following recreational activities
- wear rubber gloves when skinning or handling animals, especially rabbits
- thoroughly cook meat from wild game, especially rabbit and squirrel meat, before eating
- use protective clothing and insect repellents to avoid deerfly and tick bites
- conduct frequent check for ticks
- avoid drinking untreated water
Symptoms usually appear 3-5 days after exposure and can include high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a sore or lesion at the site where the bacteria entered the body. In addition, if the bacteria are ingested, such as swallowing contaminated water, a person may have a sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea. Persons who develop symptoms should contact their physician or health care provider.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: (http://www.cdc.gov/Tularemia/)
JCPH Animal Borne Disease Program: (http://jeffco.us/public-health/healty-environments/animal-borne-disease/)