With the first confirmed case occurring in the United States, we feel it is a good time to post an Ebola Update.
Our last post Ebola Virus Information and Facts is still an excellent resource. It contains the information you need to know about why it has spread so far and wide, as well as symptoms and the basic facts.
There is still a lot of misinformation out there. If you watch the news or follow things on Social Media things are being said that just are not true about the Ebola Virus at all. Some of this is being spread by other health professionals in both misstatements and out right lies. With that said, a little paranoia never hurt anyone, so taking precautions is not a bad thing.
Currently, as of this Ebola Update, the virus is still not airborne. Yes, it is still highly, highly contagious once a person is both infected and showing symptoms. The virus spreads through direct contact in most cases, or with contact via an infected object.
This is due to the Ebola Virus being spread through bodily fluids. ALL bodily fluids, including but not limited to saliva and sweat. It is the sweat part that makes the Ebola Virus so easily spread. In an environment where the patient is ill, with fever, they will likely be sweating. In some cases sweating profusely. Anything that has contact with that persons sweat is likely infected.
So, while not spread through the air and breathing the same air as someone in the same room as you do (hence the non airborne designation) it is still highly contagious.
Here are the Major Things you need to know about the Ebola Virus NOW (via CDC)
How Do I Protect Myself from the Ebola Virus?
CDC has issued a Warning, Level 3 travel notice for three countries. U.S. citizens should avoid all nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. CDC has issued an Alert, Level 2 travel notice for Nigeria. Travelers to Nigeria should take enhanced precautions to prevent Ebola. CDC has also issued an Alert, Level 2 travel notice for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A small number of Ebola cases have been reported in the DRC, though current information indicates that this outbreak is not related to the ongoing Ebola outbreaks in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. For travel notices and other information for travelers, visit the Travelers’ Health Ebola web page.
If you must travel to an area affected by the 2014 Ebola outbreak, protect yourself by doing the following:
- Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of any person, particularly someone who is sick.
- Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
- Do not touch the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
- Do not touch bats and nonhuman primates or their blood and fluids and do not touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals.
- Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. Embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on medical facilities.
- Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever (temperature of 101.5°F/ 38.6°C) and any of the other following symptoms: headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.
- Limit your contact with other people until and when you go to the doctor. Do not travel anywhere else besides a healthcare facility.
If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak, make sure to do the following:
- Practice careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
- Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
- Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
- Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.
- Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
- After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.
Healthcare workers who may be exposed to people with Ebola should follow these steps:
- Wear protective clothing, including masks, gloves, gowns, and eye protection.
- Practice proper infection control and sterilization measures. For more information, see “Infection Control for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers in the African Health Care Setting”.
- Isolate patients with Ebola from other patients.
- Avoid direct contact with the bodies of people who have died from Ebola.
- Notify health officials if you have had direct contact with the blood or body fluids, such as but not limited to, feces, saliva, urine, vomit, and semen of a person who is sick with Ebola. The virus can enter the body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth
No FDA-approved vaccine or medicine (e.g., antiviral drug) is available for Ebola.
Symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:
- Providing intravenous fluids (IV)and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
- Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
- Treating other infections if they occur
Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.
Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, possibly longer. It isn’t known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola. Some people who have recovered from Ebola have developed long-term complications, such as joint and vision problems.
Has the first patient to become sick in this outbreak, know as “patient zero” been identified?
Reports in the medical literature and elsewhere have attempted to identify the patient who might have been the initial person infected in the West Africa Ebola outbreak. It’s important for CDC to learn as much as it can about the source and initial spread of any outbreak.
With regard to the West Africa Ebola outbreak, tracing the lineage of how Ebola has spread thus far can help CDC apply that knowledge toward better prevention and care techniques. The knowledge gained in this work might entail details about specific patients. CDC generally refrains, however, from identifying particular patients in any aspect of an outbreak.
What is CDC doing in the U.S. about the outbreak in West Africa?
CDC has activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to help coordinate technical assistance and control activities with partners. CDC has deployed several teams of public health experts to the West Africa region and plans to send additional public health experts to the affected countries to expand current response activities.
If an ill traveler arrives in the U.S., CDC has protocols in place to protect against further spread of disease. These protocols include having airline crew notify CDC of ill travelers on a plane before arrival, evaluation of ill travelers, and isolation and transport to a medical facility if needed. CDC, along with Customs & Border Patrol, has also provided guidance to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft. CDC has issued a Health Alert Notice reminding U.S. healthcare workers about the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of this virus, how to test and isolate patients with suspected cases, and how to protect themselves from infection.
Can hospitals in the United States care for an Ebola patient?
Any U.S. hospital that is following CDC’s infection control recommendations and can isolate a patient in their own room with a private bathroom is capable of safely managing a patient with Ebola.
What is being done to prevent ill travelers in West Africa from getting on a plane?
In West Africa
CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) is working with airlines, airports, and ministries of health to provide technical assistance for the development of exit screening and travel restrictions in the affected areas. This includes:
- Assessing the ability of Ebola-affected countries and airports to conduct exit screening,
- Assisting with development of exit screening protocols,
- Training staff on exit screening protocols and appropriate PPE use, and
- Training in-country staff to provide future trainings.
CDC works with international public health organizations, other federal agencies, and the travel industry to identify sick travelers arriving in the United States and take public health actions to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Airlines are required to report any deaths onboard or ill travelers meeting certain criteria to CDC before arriving into the United States, and CDC and its partners determine whether any public health action is needed. If a traveler is infectious or exhibiting symptoms during or after a flight, CDC will conduct an investigation of exposed travelers and work with the airline, federal partners, and state and local health departments to notify them and take any necessary public health action. When CDC receives a report of an ill traveler on a cruise or cargo ship, CDC officials work with the shipping line to make an assessment of public health risk and to coordinate any necessary response.
In the United States
CDC has staff working 24/7 at 20 Border Health field offices located in international airports and land borders. CDC staff are ready 24/7 to investigate cases of ill travelers on planes and ships entering the United States.
CDC works with partners at all ports of entry into the United States to help prevent infectious diseases from being introduced and spread in the United States. CDC works with Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, state and local health departments, and local Emergency Medical Services staff.
Relatively few of the approximately 350 million travelers who enter the United States each year come from these countries. Secondly, most people who become infected with Ebola are those who live with or care for people who have already caught the disease and are showing symptoms. CDC and healthcare providers in the United States are prepared for the remote possibility that a traveler could get Ebola and return to the U.S. while sick.
What do I do if I’m returning to the U.S. from the area where the outbreak is occurring?
After you return, pay attention to your health.
- Monitor your health for 21 days if you were in an area with an Ebola outbreak, especially if you were in contact with blood or body fluids, items that have come in contact with blood or body fluids, animals or raw meat, or hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated or participated in burial rituals.
- Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever (temperature of 101.5°F/ 38.6°C) and any of the following symptoms: headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.
- Tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms before you go to the office or emergency room. Advance notice will help your doctor care for you and protect other people who may be in the office.
Should people traveling to Africa be worried about the outbreak?
Ebola has only been reported in multiple countries in West Africa (see Affected Countries). A small number of cases in Nigeria have been associated with a man from Liberia who traveled to Lagos and died from Ebola, but the virus does not appear to have been widely spread. CDC has issued a Warning, Level 3 travel notice for United States citizens to avoid all nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. CDC has issued an Alert, Level 2 travel notice for travelers to Nigeria urging them to protect themselves by avoiding contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are sick with Ebola. CDC has also issued an Alert, Level 2 travel notice for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A small number of Ebola cases have been reported in the DRC, though current information indicates that this outbreak is not related to the ongoing Ebola outbreaks in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. You can find more information on these travel notices at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.
CDC currently does not recommend that travelers avoid visiting other African countries. Although spread to other countries is possible, CDC is working with the governments of affected countries to control the outbreak. Ebola is a very low risk for most travelers – it is spread through direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of a sick person, so travelers can protect themselves by avoiding sick people and hospitals where patients with Ebola are being treated.
Why were the ill Americans with Ebola brought to the U.S. for treatment? How is CDC protecting the American public?
A U.S. citizen has the right to return to the United States. Although CDC can use several measures to prevent disease from being introduced in the United States, CDC must balance the public health risk to others with the rights of the individual. In this situation, the patients who came back to the United States for care were transported with appropriate infection control procedures in place to prevent the disease from being transmitted to others.
Ebola poses no substantial risk to the U.S. general population. CDC recognizes that Ebola causes a lot of public worry and concern, but CDC’s mission is to protect the health of all Americans, including those who may become ill while overseas. Ebola patients can be transported and managed safely when appropriate precautions are used.
What does CDC’s Travel Alert Level 3 mean to U.S. travelers?
CDC recommends that U.S. residents avoid nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. If you must travel (for example, to do for humanitarian aid work in response to the outbreak) protect yourself by following CDC’s advice for avoiding contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are ill with Ebola. For more information about the travel alerts, see Travelers’ Health Ebola web page.
Travel notices are designed to inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues related to specific destinations. These issues may arise from disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health. A level 3 alert means that there is a high risk to travelers and that CDC advises that travelers avoid nonessential travel.
In the United States
Are there any cases of people contracting Ebola in the U.S.?
CDC confirmed on September 30, 2014, the first travel-associated case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States. The person traveled from West Africa to Dallas, Texas, and later sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas after developing symptoms consistent with Ebola. The medical facility has isolated the patient. Based on the person’s travel history and symptoms, CDC recommended testing for Ebola.
CDC recognizes that even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States raises concerns. Knowing the possibility exists, medical and public health professionals across the country have been preparing to respond. CDC and public health officials in Texas are taking precautions to identify people who have had close personal contact with the ill person and health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.
Is there a danger of Ebola spreading in the U.S.?
Ebola is not spread through casual contact; therefore, the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is very low. We know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States.
Are people who were on the plane with this patient at risk?
A person must have symptoms to spread Ebola to others. The ill person did not exhibit symptoms of Ebola during the flights from West Africa and CDC does not recommend that people on the same commercial airline flights undergo monitoring. The person reported developing symptoms five days after the return flight. CDC and public health officials in Texas are taking precautions to identify people who have had close personal contact with the ill person and health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.
This morning an uninformed UN spokesperson made a statement that has since been retracted — UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response statement for clarification: No threat that Ebola is airborne.