ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Team APG hosted three town halls to educate the community on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) at the APG North (Aberdeen) post theater Oct. 29 and the APG South (Edgewood) conference center Oct. 30.
APG Garrison Commander Col. Gregory McClinton thanked the audience for attending. Health care providers and experts were on hand to answer questions from the audience.
"I ask that you take this information back to your workforce and communities outside the installation," McClinton said.
Capt. Joanna Moore, chief of preventative medicine from Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic, said the current outbreak of the EVD, that is most prevalent in four countries in Western Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria), is the largest outbreak of EVD ever recorded.
She presented several facts about Ebola, including:
EVD is preventable. People can avoid exposure with good personal hygiene practices and using appropriate protective equipment.
EVD is transmitted from person to person by direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of EVD patients.
Only people who are sick with EVD (i.e., have symptoms), or who have recently died from Ebola, can transmit the virus to others.
Ebola is not spread through drinking water, eating approved food or being bitten by insects like mosquitoes or ticks.
There are currently no licensed vaccines or specific treatments for EVD. Patients who sought care soon after symptoms began have survived with only supportive care.
"If you are not treating someone with Ebola or if you are not living in a household with someone with Ebola, your risk is very low here in the United States," she said.
In addition to addressing common concerns, Moore talked about the Army's plans to protect deployed Soldiers and civilians who have deployed to Liberia in support of Operation United Assistance. Recently Soldiers from the APG-based 1st Area Medical Laboratory deployed to Liberia.
"Soldiers who have deployed had the highest level of training," she said.
Before deploying, all Soldiers from APG received an assessment from KUSAHC.
"We ensured that not only they were prepared to deploy medically but also financially, mentally and emotionally," she said. "No one was deployed that wasn't ready to be there. We know that we are taking care of our Soldiers."
According to Moore, Soldiers who have deployed in support of Operation United Assistance have not been directed to provide medical care to Ebola patients. The Soldiers will provide support in the areas of:
Engineering (such as building medical treatment centers)
Logistics (such as providing supplies and equipment to help local health care workers successfully take care of Ebola patients)
Training for local health care workers to help them better take care of their patients while protecting themselves from possible infection
During deployment Soldiers will be carefully monitored. After deployment, Soldiers will go through a 21-day control and observation period at a location that has yet to be determined. While they are quarantined they will be monitored closely for symptoms.
"Our population will not be at risk," she said.
The town hall sessions included questions from the audience.
Panel members included Col. Steven Cersovsky, M.D., director of epidemiology and disease surveillance from the U.S. Army Public Health Command; Dr. Kristen Willis, a research virologist from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency; Dr. Barry Marx, chief of Primary Care, KUSAHC; and Michael Slayman, assistant chief of Emergency Medical Services from the Directorate of Emergency Services.
After the town hall attendee Jim Shomo, from the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center said he attended to develop a better understanding of the issues surrounding Ebola. He said he plans to share the information with Family and friends.
"It's good to be informed," he said.
Seth Lyter, from the APG Directorate of Public Works, said he attended because he is concerned about his grandchildren and about traveling. Lyter said the meeting was a good opportunity to talk to subject matter experts.
"My questions were clarified," he said "He (Cersovsky) reduced my apprehensions."
Questions from the town hall will be posted on the APG website www.teamapg.com within the next week.
For more information about Ebola Virus Disease, visit: http://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/discond/diseases/Pages/EbolaVirusDisease.aspx