Santa Clara County Health Officials Stay Proactive on How to Deal with Ebola

The Ebola virus outbreak is prompting paramedics to take more precautions when responding to calls.

Concerns are growing after Nina Pham, a Dallas health care worker, contracted the virus while treating an Ebola patient who died last week. Doctors are still trying to pinpoint how the 26-year-old Pham contracted the virus.

"We are looking at what happens with the isolation gowns," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Doctor Thomas Frieden said. "We are particularly concerned with that third process of taking off the isolation protective, and the possibility of reinfecting themselves in the process."

Rural Metro, which serves more than two million people in Santa Clara County, is making sure paramedics and ambulances are stocked with critical equipment to protect against the Ebola virus.

The equipment includes an infection control kit, impermeable gowns, protective eye wear and special masks.

"We've asked every ambulance provider and first responder to use a bleach-based disinfectant, which can kill the Ebola virus and other viruses and bacteria," said Michael Petrie, Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services director.

Petrie said his team is also looking into getting isolation pods that can be used to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"We've also instituted new screening questions they must ask every patient if they have a fever and and whether they have been to the three countries that have been affected predominantly," he said.

Petrie also said while health officials learn more about how the virus is transmitted, Santa Clara County is working to make sure they have a plan, protocols and protective gear in case Ebola makes it to the Bay Area.

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