Health care providers and travelers returning from Ebola affected regions will be individually assessed for exposure risk
While there continue to be no reported or confirmed cases of Ebola in California, State Health Officer and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Dr. Ron Chapman today took action to help prevent any potential spread of the disease in the state by issuing a quarantine order and associated guidelines that require counties to individually assess persons at risk for Ebola and tailor an appropriate level of quarantine as needed. This flexible, case-by-case approach will ensure that local health officers throughout the state prevent spread of the disease, while ensuring that individuals at risk for Ebola are treated fairly and consistently.
“Today we’re establishing a statewide, standard protocol requiring some level of quarantine for those at highest risk of contracting and spreading Ebola,” said Dr. Chapman. “This order will protect the health and safety of Californians and support the state’s local health officers’ existing authority to develop protections against disease spread.”
The order, which applies to anyone traveling to California who has 1) traveled to California from an Ebola affected area; and 2) has had contact with someone who has a confirmed case of Ebola, requires those travelers to be quarantined for 21 days. A person traveling to this region that has not come into contact with a person with Ebola will not be subject to quarantine. An Ebola affected area is one determined as an active area by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which currently includes Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
California Department of Public Health and Local Health Officers Partner
Local County health officers will issue quarantine orders for individuals and establish limitations of quarantine on a case-by-case basis. These limitations will be based on new guidance also released today by CDPH. This “Guidance for the Evaluation and Management of Contacts to Ebola Virus Disease” outlines quarantine limitations that local health officers should take based on the level of Ebola risk to which individuals were exposed. Although quarantine can involve isolation at home, it may be tailored to allow for greater movement of individuals who are deemed to be at lower risk.
“Not everyone who has been to an Ebola affected area should be considered high risk,” Dr. Chapman said. “This order will allow local health officers to determine, for those coming into California, who is most at risk for developing this disease, and to contain any potential spread of infectious disease by responding to those risks appropriately.”
In California, local health officers currently have the authority to order quarantine of people who may have an infectious disease that threatens public health. This order will ensure consistent application across the state of quarantine for high risk individuals in order to control risks from Ebola.
California is home to many health care workers who have selflessly volunteered to help combat the current Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. These individuals are engaged in stemming this epidemic at its source through a range of activities, from direct care of confirmed Ebola patients to health education of the general population. California is also receiving residents returning from travel to these three countries as well as visitors from this region.
“Health care workers who go to Ebola affected countries to treat patients are great humanitarians. They will be treated with respect and dignity when they come home as these important public health actions are taken,” said Dr. Chapman. “We value those who volunteer to help those in need, and appreciate their willingness to serve.”
Today’s Order is available on the CDPH website, cdph.ca.gov, as is the Guidance to local health officers for implementing the order.
California Public Health Actions to Date
Since the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, CDPH has worked with state, federal and local health officials to prepare for potential cases of Ebola in California. In August, CDPH launched an informational website compiling information about the outbreak and preparing California health care providers with guidance and protocols from the CDC. CDPH has developed an interim case report form for reporting suspected cases of Ebola to CDPH and has distributed CDC guidance on specimen collection, transport, testing and submission for patients suspected of having Ebola. Last week, CDPH posted interim guidelines for Ebola medical waste management and recommended that all health care facility environmental services personnel and infection control staff work together to develop facility-specific protocols for safe handling of Ebola related medical waste. CDPH has provided these and other documents to health care providers and partners via the California Health Alert Network (CAHAN).
In September, CDPH convened more than 1,100 health care and public health workers to urge them to assess their Ebola readiness and conduct drills in their facilities. Last week, CDPH officials held a teleconference with health care providers to discuss the latest news and guidance about handling suspected Ebola cases. CDPH is providing weekly updates to local health officials, first responders and health care providers as the Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa. CDPH launched a telephone hotline call center to respond to public inquiries related to Ebola. In October, Governor Brown joined officials from the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS), CDPH, Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and Cal/OSHA to meet with California hospital leaders, nurses, emergency responders, local health directors and medical providers. Last week the University of California Medical Centers were identified as priority hospitals for the treatment of confirmed Ebola cases.
CDPH is also available to provide consultation about suspect Ebola cases to local health departments and health care providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. CDPH joins with a team of state departments and agencies including CHHS, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) and DIR, to address all aspects of preparedness for a potential Ebola case in California.
For more information about how the state is preparing for potential cases of Ebola, please read CDPH's Ebola Virus Disease FAQs and visit the CDPH Ebola Virus Information Page and the Cal/OSHA Ebola Virus Information site.