Monday, October 13, 2014

Information About Ebola

PinnacleHealth
Infectious Disease Specialist,
John Goldman, MD.
While the Ebola virus continues to cause concern, we should be reassured that the risk for the spread of the infection in the U.S. remains low.

Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with an infected person's blood or body fluids. Ebola is not transmitted through the air or in water. Patients with Ebola are not infectious until they are symptomatic.

Healthcare providers locally and around the country are taking steps to protect our communities. At PinnacleHealth, we are asking patients to inform us of recent travel. We want to know if you have you lived in, visited, or cared for someone who is ill that traveled to one of the following countries within the last three weeks.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Guinea
  • Liberia
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
By knowing this information, we can properly screen those who may have been exposed and begin treatment if needed. A patient with signs and symptoms of Ebola and recent travel to an area where Ebola transmission has been active will be immediately isolated in Standard, Contact and Droplet Precautions.

Early symptoms of Ebola include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat, each of which can be easily mistaken early on for other ailments like malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis. It generally takes about 5 to 7 days to develop symptoms. However, symptoms might not appear until two to 21 days after one is infected.  Ebola can cause viral hemorrhagic fever, which can affect multiple organ systems in the body and is often accompanied by bleeding.

While the medical community is working to develop a vaccine, there aren’t specific medications to treat the infection. We are able to offer supportive measures while the body works to heal on its own.  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
It is our strong recommendation that all non-essential travel to West Africa should be avoided. If you are traveling, use common sense infection prevention. Do your best to avoid sick individuals and use good hygiene practices, such as regular hand-washing and hand sanitizer. The CDC offers the following information about travel and Ebola.

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