Local News

NC health lab selected to test blood samples for Ebola

Posted October 22, 2014 12:35 p.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2014 2:39 p.m. EDT

Ebola Outbreak

— No cases of Ebola have been confirmed in North Carolina, but state health officials are trying to stay a step ahead by devising an emergency plan in case a resident is infected.

State Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos and state epidemiologist Megan Davies said Wednesday that North Carolina’s public health laboratory has been selected as one of 15 sites in the country to test blood samples for Ebola.

Virginia, Florida and Maryland are the other southeastern states being equipped to test blood samples.

"Whether or not a potential Ebola sample would be sent to our state lab over another southern state’s lab would be situational. The location and proximity to a potential specimen would be a factor," DHHS spokeswoman Alexandra Lefebvre said in an email to WRAL News.

If potential Ebola cases were to appear in the region, it would come to the Raleigh facility for testing. The state public health lab has yet to test any blood sample for Ebola.

State health officials also said 76 out of about 100 hospitals in North Carolina have run a drill on how to handle an Ebola patient. That includes having places to isolate patients and how to remove protective gear.

More than 500 public health officials have been trained on safe Ebola practices. They've also provided information to funeral directors on how to properly dispose of an infected body.

State health officials say they continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on caring for Ebola patients. As they're updated, they will keep working with local health departments and hospitals to see that the guidelines are followed.