Rachel S. Brunt, RN, BSN, MBA-HCA, CIC, is the Infection Prevention Supervisor at Lafayette General Medical Center and is certified in Infection Control by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology.  She recently participated in a conference call with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  According to Rachel, here are the things we need to know about Ebola.

 
• People who are not having symptoms of Ebola are not contagious and cannot spread the virus.
• The virus is spread through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected, symptomatic person or by exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
• Ebola is not spread through food or water, nor is it transmitted through the air.
• There is no specific treatment for Ebola beyond supportive care, such as fluids.
• Contracting the Ebola virus is not considered a risk in the U.S.  However, probabilities are higher for people who travel to West African nations where there is an outbreak of the virus.
• Every case found in the United States was contracted overseas (including the two aid workers brought to Emory and the case in Dallas).
• Symptoms of Ebola include fever, headaches, joint pain, muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and abnormal bleeding.  Symptoms usually appear suddenly and can begin anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure, although 8 to 10 days is most common.
• Although very low risk, LGMC is preparing for the possibility of Ebola virus.  We are following the recommendations released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in developing a protocol and educating our ER staff.  Any patient who presents fever, headache and/or GI symptoms and has traveled to Africa within the past 21 days will be screened for the virus and isolated.  If a patient is suspected of having Ebola, we would notify the Office of Public Health & CDC for further testing and guidance.