Overview of Ebola

Overview of Ebola and Inspira’s Patient Safety Efforts

As you have probably seen in the news during the last few months, the Ebola virus has been spreading, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Recently, the first travel-associated case of Ebola was diagnosed in the United States. The affected person is currently being treated and is in isolation in a Texas hospital. Any potential exposures to this person are being traced, and at the present time there are no other confirmed cases.
At Inspira Health Network, the health and safety of our patients and the community is our top priority. While the Ebola virus may not affect our region, we have plans in place in the event that any suspected cases should present to our facilities.

Inspira’s Infection Prevention and Control teams, ER Leadership and Staff, Medical Staff Leadership, Emergency Preparedness Staff and other clinical leadership are closely monitoring the outbreak and reviewing the policies and procedures we have in place. We are currently screening all patients who present at our ERs, Urgent Care centers and physician practices who meet criteria developed by the CDC. We also have procedures in place for isolating any patient who reports a travel history to an Ebola-affected country. Additionally, our infectious disease physicians and infection control teams are in close contact with local and state health departments, as well as the CDC.

Below is some information about the Ebola virus, as well as a link to more information from the CDC.

What is Ebola?
Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebola virus though 8-10 days is most common.

How is Ebola transmitted?
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or though exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

Can Ebola be transmitted through the air?
No. Ebola is not a respiratory disease like the flu, so it is not transmitted through the air.

Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have any symptoms?
No. Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms or has died of the disease.

For more information on Ebola, visit the latest information posted on the CDC Ebola website at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html.

Paul M. Lambrecht, MJ, MHA, FACHE
Vice President, Quality & Patient Safety

Posted October  6, 2014