The Minnesota Health Department issued a statement Wednesday in response to the first case of ebola diagnosed in the United States.

It has left a man who recently traveled from Liberia in serious condition at a hospital in Texas. State officials say there is no indication the man had any contact with anyone in Minnesota. They also stressed that Minnesota is prepared to respond in the event of an Ebola case in state, and while that would be a frightening development for many, it would not represent a great public health risk to the general public.

“We know how to stop Ebola's spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to an ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious diseases for MDH. “It’s important to remember in this context that Ebola is not spread through the air. It is only spread through contact with blood or body fluid of a person with symptoms of Ebola or who has died from Ebola. If we were to find a case in Minnesota, it would not represent a great public health risk to the general public. But it would be crucial to follow up on all contacts of that person.”

 

Health Department Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger noted the Minnesota public health and medical system has prior experience with this type of rare disease. In April 2014, Minnesota had a case of Lassa fever, which is another type of viral hemorrhagic fever. The response was the same as it would be for ebola; the patient’s contacts were identified and monitored for 21 days.

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