Kent City Council addresses Ebola before council meeting

Kent City Council met Wednesday night to suspend and adopt a multitude of ordinances from the community development, finance, health and safety and streets side and utilities committees, but before council addressed the agenda, Kent City Health Commissioner Jeff Niestadt reported on the status of Ebola in Ohio.

Amber Joy Vinson, a nurse who tended to Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola on Oct. 8, had been visiting Tallmadge family members in Tallmadge and was there for the majority of her stay.

“They spent the evening in Tallmadge, not going any where,” Niestadt said. He also said the she did not go to the Kent State football game, but did go to a bridal shop in the Akron area on Saturday. “We’re still trying to put those pieces together, who she was with, which bridal shop it was, where exactly it was, who she had contact with, how many situations that could arise in those encounters.”

Niestadt said that there is no reason to believe that Vinson stepped foot in Portage County or anywhere in Kent and will be working contact tracing, which will be a slow process.

“There is a lot work that needs to be done here, it’s not a fast process, it’s a very meticulous process that need to be done correctly,” Niestadt said. “And that takes time. The biggest thing we need to concern ourselves with is the accuracy of information.”

Mayor and President of City Council Jerry Fiala said that relying on social media to get inform oneself about the Ebola

Tweets from Kent City Council meeting on Oct. 15
Tweets from Kent City Council meeting on Oct. 15


virus is not the best. Niestadt also said there is no reason to panic, but stressed the importance of being aware and cautious.

Christopher Woolverton, a professor from Kent State University, explained to the council that the way to get Ebola is to come in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, which ranges from sweat, feces, urine, blood or vomit.

“One of the indicators that there’s enough virus inside the body to actually transmitted to someone else, through one of these fluid is the fever,” Woolverton said. “The fever is kind of a first sign that the cells are breaking down in the body in response to the virus attacking all of those cells.”

Woolverton said that Vinson was not symptomatic while she was in Ohio to their knowledge, but had a fever the day after she went back to Texas.

“The virus attacks the lining of blood vessels, which is why it is called a hemorrhagic fever,” Woolverton said. “One of the next symptoms of the disease is bleeding from the eyes and the rectum and from other body orifices.”

Woolverton said that the reason bleeding happens is because the blood vessels are breaking down, which is what they see from the outside the body. On the inside of the body, the blood is pooling inside the body and internal bleeding is the result.

“In about 52 percent of patients their bodies without treatment will succumb to the virus,” Woolverton said about those infected in Africa. “48 percent of those people their immune systems protect them and with the extra treatment they receive from the medical community were able to (stop) the virus. Those who recover have lasting immunity…10 to 15 years, as far as the science goes.”

Niestadt said that there is a Kent State phoneline set up, as well Summit County and more information about Ebola will be on the city’s Health Department website. He also said the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is aware of the situation in Northeast Ohio.

“(The CDC) is very well willing to assist, if and when it is needed,” Niestadt said. “But right now, we’re in good shape and no reason to panic.”