Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and several Borough Board members on Monday expressed their concern over what they saw as ambiguous Ebola virus information on a card that was brought to the board’s meeting and distributed by city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene representatives.
With the news of the city’s first confirmed Ebola case—a physician who is now being treated at Bellevue Hospital—still fresh, Katz, several members of her staff, community board representatives and press packed the second-floor conference room for a brief presentation on the acute, deadly illness narrated by Dr. Jessica Kattan of the DOHMH.
“The risk to the average New Yorker contracting Ebola is exceedingly slim,” said Kattan as she opened up the meeting to questions. “It’s difficult to catch because it’s transmitted through blood and bodily fluids.”
However, on the information card—which is white with blue and black text—it indicates that “You can only get Ebola from having direct contact with another sick person by: touching a person who is sick with Ebola; touching a person who died from Ebola; touching body fluids (blood, vomit, urine, feces, sweat) or objects soiled with the body fluids of a person sick with Ebola.”
Katz said, “What [the card] says here is different from the presentation.” While Kattan reiterated that “transmission really only occurs person to person through bodily fluids,” she promised Katz that DOHMH would get back to the BP’s Office regarding the discrepancy.
“There’s very deep interest in the borough of Queens, and the city, to know the facts,” Katz said.
Kevin Moran, executive director of field operations for the city Department of Education, spoke briefly about hand-washing policies in public schools in light of the Ebola scare. Katz indicated that she sent a letter about a week ago to Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina “about the chances of having kids wash hands before lunch” every day, but has yet to receive a response.
By Michael V. Cusenza