Dr. Lartchenko on Front Lines of Ebola and Zika Outbreaks

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Remember the Dallas Ebola outbreak in 2014? Dr. Lartchenko was plugged in from day one. Dallas’ big brush with Ebola began in September of that year when Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with the disease at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. He had traveled here from Liberia, where the disease was spreading. Within days of his arrival, he developed symptoms and sought treatment at Presbyterian. Duncan died Oct. 8, becoming the nation’s first recorded death from the disease.

Within the next week, two intensive-care nurses who had treated Duncan were diagnosed with Ebola. Nina Pham and Amber Vinson were treated at specialty hospitals outside the state, and both survived.

Focused Ebola surveillance efforts identified about 180 people who had some contact with Duncan or the two nurses and were considered at some risk of developing the disease. Each person had twice-daily temperature readings for three weeks.

Dr. Lartchenko was intricately involved with Methodist Healthcare System in aggressive education efforts. “I helped put in place some guidelines for emergency preparedness for local healthcare workers,” said Dr. Lartchenko. Dr. L also coordinated twice-weekly calls with key healthcare executives around the nation, educating and updating on the outbreak.

More recently and perhaps more alarmingly, there are now confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Dallas County. In fact, the first Zika patient to contract the virus in the U.S. without traveling abroad is a Dallas County resident, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. County health officials said the patient was infected through sexual contact, not through a mosquito bite.

The Zika virus is a rare tropical disease that is spreading in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. The mosquito-borne Zika virus usually causes a mild illness but is now suspected in an unusual birth defect and possibly other health issues. The World Health Organization declared an international emergency on Feb. 1 of this year over the explosive spread of Zika, saying it is an “extraordinary event.”
Dr. Lartchenko has recently recorded several educational radio segments on Doc Talk Live, in an attempt to educate and answer questions about the Zika virus.