False Ebola report \"not a joke\" says Cole County health director

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JEFFERSON CITY - A report of a possible Ebola patient in Cole County turned out to be a "hoax," according to Cole County Health Department Director Kristi Campbell.

She said someone called St. Mary's Health Center Thursday morning and claimed a person in their house had recently traveled to West Africa and had Ebola-like symptoms.

As a result, Campbell said, Cole County and Jefferson City activated their incident plan. Law enforcement investigated and determined the claim was false and that "there is no one in Cole County that meets the description given by the caller."

Campbell said there would be further contact with the caller and law enforcement would "deal with them appropriately."

"These matters will be taken seriously," she said. "It's not a joke."

Campbell said the false report gave responders a good chance to practice their reaction in the case of a real incident.

"We will take what we have learned today and continue to improve our plan and enhance our response," Campbell said.

When asked about future calls that might come in, she said, "We will have to treat every call as if it is a real incidence."