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State leaders sick over sickness scare

2 years 1 month 1 week ago September 19, 2014 Sep 19, 2014 Friday, September 19 2014 September 19, 2014 6:12 AM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ryan Naquin

BATON ROUGE - A sick ship on the Mississippi River more than a hundred river miles south of the capitol created ripples all to the state's seat Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and the Coast Guard took command when a group of sick crewmen needed assistance aboard the Marine Phoenix.  One person had malaria.

The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness felt out of the loop and said a day after the ordeal, state staff should have known more.

"We really weren't hearing anything additional from the CDC out of Atlanta," GOHSEP Director Kevin Davis said. "That was one of our critical issues as we went into the night, not really hearing from them. They did put a press thing out early evening in reference to they made other comments about potential other diseases."

The potential other disease referenced by the CDC was Ebola, which the federal agency did not rule out saying the possibility of crew members having the deadly disease was "excessively low".

When tests showed the sick person had malaria and not Ebola, GOHSEP got word through the Department of Health and Human Services instead of CDC.

"We certainly take every incident very seriously and I don't know what happened in that communication ring but they had sent that information out and left us out," Davis said. "You saw folks on TV with suits picking up people so that was potential issues for the public to understand what was going on and we really weren't getting that information."

The CDC said in an email it had "been in direct contact with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness" during the situation.   A spokesperson added, "we are continuing to hold productive discussions about CDC's role in such an event and have expressed our commitment to working to strengthen ties for any possible future event."

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