California sets up Ebola hotline

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said Thursday it established an Ebola hotline and call center to respond to inquiries related to the disease.

CDPH director and state health officer Dr. Ron Chapman said the hotline is one in a series of steps the agency has taken to respond to the epidemic:

“Our goal is to be available to eliminate the mystery of this disease and offer the facts to Californians as the situation evolves.”

There have been three confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States and one fatality from the disease since the most recent outbreak was reported in Africa in May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of Oct. 14, more than 4,500 deaths have been linked to the disease, the CDC said. There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in California, representatives from CDPH said, and there are no suspected cases.

As part of the department’s response, CDPH has worked with state, federal and local health officials to prepare for potential cases of Ebola in California and launched an informational website compiling information about the outbreak for medical professionals and the public.

The health agency developed an interim case report form for reporting suspected cases of Ebola to CDPH and distributed CDC guidance on specimen collection, transport, testing and submission for patients suspected of having the disease.

Last week, the agency posted interim medical waste management guidelines and held a teleconference with health care providers to discuss the latest news and guidance about handling suspected Ebola cases. Health care professionals and members of the public can call the hotline at (855) 421-5921.

The call center will be open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information about the state’s response to the outbreak, visit http://cdph.ca.gov/programs/cder/Pages/Ebola.aspx