Republished from the Muscogee Nation News
Jessica McBride/Editorial Assistant
MCNDH prepared to handle increase in patients
OKMULGEE, Okla. — Between the Ebola outbreak in western Africa and now an outbreak of enterovirus D68 in the U.S., some may think the zombie apocalypse must be next.
According to Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health Chief Nursing Officer Annette James, MCNDH is operating with a heightened awareness in response to the enterovirus outbreak and is trained and prepared to address the situation.
In a released statement from the Oklahoma State Department of Health Sept. 16, out of 24 specimens from Oklahoma submitted to the CDC labs for analysis, seven were positive for enterovirus.
However, medical providers are not required to report the number of cases, so the true number of cases in Oklahoma is unknown.
In the statement, State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley said that children less than 5-years-old and children with asthma are most at risk of being hospitalized from complications due to the virus.
“If a child develops a cold or a cough, parents and caregivers should just watch the child a little more closely to ensure the respiratory infection is running a normal course,” Bradley said. “If wheezing or asthma-like symptoms develop, medical care should be accessed immediately.”
James said that it is understandable that the virus is affecting mostly children.
“Most people as we grow older, we have been exposed to it and so we’ve built a resistance and so; it’s affecting primarily the young ones that have not been exposed to it before and especially people with asthma, because they already have a weakened respiratory system,” James said.
According to James, MCNDH has not yet seen a case of enterovirus in a patient.
James advised to keep children home if they have a fever or have a productive cough.
“Rule of thumb, if you’re sick; stay home,” James said.
The enterovirus is spread through respiratory secretions.
There is not a vaccine for enterovirus, however MCNDH recommends typical illness prevention measures including: washing hands frequently, covering coughs, not sharing utensils or products that will touch your face with others and frequently cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated.
MCNDH facilities are also equipped with masks, hand washing stations and antibacterial gel to prevent the spread of illness.
James said that masks are recommended at facilities and at home to protect individuals that may have a compromised immune system.
“We encourage them to use our masks and that just protects them because they evidently have a weakened immune system at that point in time and it protects the other patients that are there from being exposed to that too,” James said.
In regards to Ebola, James said it is public health emergency but does not believe it is cause for concern in this area.
“There has been no cases here… but our health centers are prepared. We stay on top of what’s the latest and greatest; what’s going on out there to make sure we are prepared if something comes up,” James said.
James said that MCNDH is prepared to assist patients whether they come in for flu, enterovirus or Ebola.
“I think the main thing that we want people to know, is that we do have the providers, the medical providers, the nurses, all the staff that would need to respond to these types of situations… we have all of these protocols in place to manage those types of things,” James said.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health Chief Nursing Officer Annette James stated that the department is prepared and trained to manage an enterovirus outbreak.