Ebola outbreak risk in California very low, health officials say

October 15, 2014
The Ebola virus

The Ebola virus

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – There are no cases or suspected cases of Ebola in California, and the risk of the spread of virus in the state “is very low,” a state health official said today.

Ebola cannot be spread through the air, food or water, said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist and deputy director at the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health.

The virus is “not particularly hardy” and does not live more than a few hours on dry surfaces, such as phones and table tops, Chavez said.

However, in moist or wet conditions — such as in blood or vomit — Ebola can survive for a longer period of time. The people most at risk of contracting Ebola are close family members of infected patients and the health-care workers involved in their care.

“We believe the risk of the spread of Ebola in California is very low,” Chavez said.

So far, two patients in California have been tested for Ebola, and the virus was ruled out in both cases. One case was in Los Angeles County and the other in Sacramento County, authorities said.

Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, said California health officials are closely monitoring the “evolving (Ebola) situation” nationwide, particularly in Texas where two nurses involved in treating an Ebola patient became infected by the virus. The patient has since died.

“We are all learning from the lessons” in Texas, Chapman said.

California health officials are working with hospitals and first-responding agencies to review protocols, training, equipment and readiness of medical personnel and facilities that would be involved in treating Ebola patients, Chapman said.

Both Chapman and Chavez said that Ebola does not pose a significant health risk in California at present time.