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Director Thompson: "Our staff members are 'unsung heroes' in Ebola response."

Before the public became aware of the first U.S. diagnosed case of Ebola in Dallas, health officials from Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) were already on the ground investigating. DCHHS issued an Ebola health advisory to the medical community more than one month prior to first case confirmation, followed by guidance such as a detailed hospital checklist for Ebola preparedness and an algorithm for testing suspected Ebola Virus Disease.


“DCHHS staff members are the unsung heroes working behind the scene in this whole Ebola case,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. “Employees have been tasked with working beyond their normal work hours to protect the public’s health.”


Ebola Situation Update 10-14-14
Zachary Thompson, second from right, provides weekly Ebola updates in Dallas County Commissioners Court. Photo by Wallace Faggett.


Transparency, Thompson added, is critical in building public trust. That’s why he has been providing weekly Ebola updates in Dallas County Commissioners Court. Those behind the scene tasks he refers to include:

  • Translating Ebola information in 10 languages in addition to English, Spanish, and French

  • Operating a call center to answer public questions

  • Going door-to-door to educate citizens about Ebola

  • Providing food and personal items to contacts under control orders

  • Disseminating information to local response partners and community organizations

  • Continuing with public health follow-up and twice daily monitoring of contacts

  • Driving Ebola specimen samples over 400 miles round trip to be tested at state lab


“We are being asked to drive specimen samples to the state lab in Austin, and we don’t mind that, but we are able to test the samples in our lab,” Thompson said. “All we need is CDC clearance, which we have requested.”


If DCHHS is cleared by CDC for Ebola testing, the department will join nearly 20 labs in the United States to perform Ebola testing.


“Local testing will save time, money, and will mean a faster turnaround on a test result,” said Dr. Christopher Perkins, DCHHS medical director/health authority. “Anything we can do to expedite test results will benefit our public health follow-up.” “


To date, none of DCHHS’ 48 contacts has shown symptoms of Ebola.


Ebola Situation Update Oct 14 2014

Left to right: Dr. Christopher Perkins, DCHHS Medical Director/Health Authority; Tammara Scroggins, DCHHS Assistant Director Public Health Communicable Disease; Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price; Erikka Neroes, DCHHS Public Information Officer; Zachary Thompson, DCHHS Director. Photo by Wallace Faggett.


For general questions or for more information about
Dallas County Health and Human Services please call 214-819-2000.

Ganesh Shivaramaiyer
Interim Director
Christopher Perkins, D.O., M.P.H.
Medical Director / Health Authority

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