Press Release

January 26, 2007

Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System successfully assists area following hepatitis A exposure

Additional nursing assistance provided by state and 14 health departments  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A statewide mutual aid system designed to strengthen public health efforts during emergencies successfully helped the Kane County Health Department provide medicine to people potentially exposed to hepatitis A at an area restaurant. Health workers through the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System (IPHMAS) helped local health department officials distribute immune globulin, a solution to protect against various infectious diseases, to more than 1,700 people. IPHMAS provides equipment, personnel, supplies and services to an area stricken by an emergency through local health departments who joined the mutual aid system.

Under Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, the state’s emergency response capabilities have been bolstered by the formation of statewide mutual aid agreements in public health, law enforcement and emergency management. Along with existing statewide mutual aid in the fire services, these agreements make Illinois the only state in the nation with statewide mutual aid in those four major disciplines. This provides Illinois with a greater ability to respond to acts of terrorism or other disasters anywhere in the state.

“This type of mutual aid agreement significantly improves our ability to respond in an emergency by pulling together the resources necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of Illinois residents,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “After working over the years to be able to respond to any emergency, large or small, we saw this week that our mutual aid system worked to help the Kane County Health Department.”

Nursing assistance was provided by Boone, Champaign-Urbana, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Kendall, Macon, McHenry, McLean, Vermilion, Whiteside and Will county health departments, along with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), East Side Health District and Stickney Municipal Health Department to Kane County as part of the IPHMAS agreement. The assistance was provided at no cost to Kane County.

“What happened in Kane County is a perfect example of the effectiveness of the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System and how health departments can assist one another in a time of need to help protect the public health,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state Public Health Director. “The Kane County Health Department needed additional nurses to administer immune globulin to hundreds of people immediately and was able to count on this mutual aid agreement.”

Immune globulin has been given to more than 1,700 people who may have been exposed to hepatitis A at Houlihan’s Restaurant in Geneva from January 8 through January 19 due to possible contamination of ice by a restaurant worker. IDPH sent a voice mail message through its Health Alert Network to approximately 160 ice skating teams throughout the country that recently participated in a skating competition in Geneva and may have eaten at the restaurant. The Kane County Health Department currently has a sufficient supply of immune globulin.

“We are so thankful that we are part of a mutual aid system,” said Kane County Health Department Executive Director Mary Lou England. “The residents of Kane County and the State of Illinois should be proud that their resources have been invested in a regional system. We feel it is vital that such a system is in place.”

In an effort to strengthen the preparedness of the public health system in Illinois, the IPHMAS was created in 2004, and all certified local health departments have signed the agreement. Any local health department in Illinois which has signed the IPHMAS agreement can request assistance from any other local health department in Illinois that has also signed the IPHMAS Agreement. Local health departments request IPHMAS assistance from the Illinois Department of Public Health which disseminates the request to health departments around the state using the Health Alert Network.

IPHMAS was previously activated this past July at the request of the East Side Health District, located in St. Clair County, due to storms and power outages. Three sanitarians from the St. Clair County Health Department assisted in that event.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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