WHAT IS EBOLA? SHOULD I BE SCARED?
Ebola is a deadly disease caused by infection from one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola was previously called Ebola hemorrhagic fever and was first detected in an African region now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It is very important for healthcare providers to do a thorough history and physical when someone presents to a hospital or clinic. If someone has a fever of >100.4 and has lived in or traveled to a high-risk country in the last 21 days, then infection control precautions should be taken immediately.
Symptoms may appear between 2 -21 days after exposure
Initial symptoms are non-specific and flu-like: fever, chills, aches and weakness
Symptoms can also be gastrointestinal: nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain
Other symptoms are chest pain, shortness of breath, headache or confusion, conjunctivalinjection (redness of the conjunctiva) , hiccups, seizures, and cerebral edema.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the most common symptoms reported in the current outbreak are: fever (87%), fatigue (76%), vomiting (68%) and diarrhea (66%).
HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED
The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact through skin or mucus membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) with:
blood or body fluids
through an object like a syringe/needle that has been contaminated
ARE HOSPITALS PREPARED
Yes; any U.S. hospital that follows the CDC's infection control recommendations and has the capability to isolate a patient to a private room is capable of taking care of patients that are infected. Healthcare personnel taking care of these patients should wear gloves, gowns, an eye shield and a face mask. Additional personal protective equipment may be warranted (ex. double gloving, shoe covers).
There is no FDA approved vaccine or anti-viral medication for Ebola. Experimental drugs like ZMapp are being developed. ZMapp currently hasn't been tested on humans for safety and effectiveness but has been given to some people infected with the virus.
Right now, supportive care is the primary treatment: continual monitoring, IV fluids and balancing electrolytes.
For healthcare workers
Fact sheet about support in Dallas