Ebola Facts and Information

The following information was developed and released by the Home Care Aide Council.

Definition:
ebolaEbola (Ebola virus disease or EVD) is a severe, often fatal, illness that can infect humans. There is currently an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa that began in Guinea and has affected Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

How is Ebola spread:
Ebola is NOT spread through the air or through water.

You can only get Ebola from:

  • Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola. Touching contaminated objects, like needles.
  • Touching infected animals, their blood or other body fluids.
  • Ebola is also not usually spread through eating food, but may be spread through handling or eating infected animals (bushmeat) from areas with an Ebola outbreak.

Signs and Symptoms:
Ebola only spreads when the people are sick. A patient must have symptoms to spread the disease to others. The following Ebola symptoms can appear 2 to 21 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pains
  • Muscle pains
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

Care Tips:
Remember, it is extremely important for home care aides to adhere to infection control protocols, including good handwashing techniques and appropriate use of personal protective equipment at all times. Avoid contact with blood and other body fluids of any ill person. Objects and surfaces contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned with a bleach solution or other approved, household cleaner.

  • Health care providers take special measures to prevent the spread of Ebola if they think someone is sick, including:
  • Wearing protective clothing (such as masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles)
  • Using infection control measures (such as cleaning surfaces and equipment)
  • Isolating people who may be sick with Ebola to keep others from getting sick
  • Dead bodies of Ebola victims can still spread Ebola to others. In areas with an Ebola outbreak, avoid touching dead bodies or fluids from dead bodies.

Travel Considerations:
The likelihood of becoming infected with Ebola is very small unless a person has traveled to an outbreak area AND has had direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with blood or body fluids from an Ebola infected person or animal. It should be kept in mind that there are many illnesses that can cause fever or other associated symptoms in returning travelers.

Individuals should be advised to promptly seek medical guidance if they have any exposure overseas as described below:

  • Directly touching blood or body fluids of a person who is ill with Ebola or who has died from Ebola. Directly touching animals that may have Ebola.
  • Working or volunteering in a facility that is treating Ebola patients.
  • Being a household member of a confirmed or suspected Ebola case even if no direct contact with an ill person was identified.

Individuals returning from a high risk area should monitor themselves for symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, body aches, or diarrhea for 21 days after leaving the outbreak area.

  • Individuals without an identified exposure as above should be advised to take their temperature twice daily for 21 days after leaving the high risk area. If the person has a fever (100.4◦ or higher), they should contact their healthcare provider for additional evaluation.
  • Persons without an exposure who do not have a fever can continue public activities.
  • Asymptomatic persons returning to work more than 21 days after leaving an outbreak area are not at risk and do not need special follow-up.

Additional Resources and References:
The Ebola situation is rapidly changing, and CDC guidance is updated as additional information becomes available. The most recent CDC guidance can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html?s_cid=cdc_homepage_feature_001

Fact sheets about Ebola can be found on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website at: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/emergency-prep/threats/biological/ebola-virus.htmlwww.bphc.org/Ebola
Information for this summary was taken directly from the Boston Public Health Commission advisories available online at: www.bphc.org/Ebola

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