Ebola has come to the United States! First, an imported case from Africa and now two cases transmitted within the country. Making things worse, the first home-grown Ebola is a nurse named Nina Pham who willingly cared for a contagious and sick patient under constant threat of infection by the virus herself. The second case was just reported on 15 Oct and actually traveled on commercial air from Dallas to Cleveland and back. Our prayers go out to Nina Pham and the other HCW with Ebola as they continues to battle the deadly virus! Latest reports suggest she is faring well. For more info on who this selfless nurse is, CNN has prepared a short biographical video. Be strong and recover soon, Nina.
This post is obviously not specific to aerospace medicine or any of the other medical niches usually covered on Go Flight Medicine, however, this is an issue critical to any medical provider currently. A separate post was previously published and provides an overview of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever and the CDC guidelines regarding air travel. That post is constantly being updated through frequent comments at the end of the post, so be sure to check those out on regular frequency.
Health care workers remain a very high-risk group for transmission due to their close proximity to the contaminated fluids of symptomatic, contagious patients. Of the almost 8,400 confirmed cases of Ebola in this outbreak, over 400 have been diagnosed in HCW’s. The newest confirmed case in the United States was shocking for a number of reasons, but most importantly because the route of transmission is still being scrutinized. The CDC maintains that there must have been a breach in protocol. If you are a HCW, it is truly critical that you learn about this deadly virus before you encounter it. Before panicking, however, be aware that your likelihood of actually treating an Ebola patient in the U.S. is exceedingly small. Still, best to be prepared!
CNN – Ebola Basics for HCW’s – The Minimum You Need to Know
CDC GUIDANCE FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS (HCW’s)
The CDC has admitted to not effectively educating HCW’s about Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever initially. In response, there is an ever-increasing collection of resources on the CDC website written specifically for HCW’s. For those of you who don’t want to bother with an extra click:
Protecting Healthcare Workers
- Sequence for Putting On and Removing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Tools for Protecting Healthcare Personnel
- Algorithm – Evaluating Returned Travelers for Ebola, US
- Checklist for Patients Being Evaluated for Ebola in the U.S.
Laboratory (specimen collection, transport, testing, submission)
- Specimen Collection, Transport, Testing, and Submission for Persons Under Investigation for Ebola in the U.S. – Interim Guidance
- Factsheet – Visual format
- Packaging and Shipping Clinical Specimens Diagram
- Frequently Asked Questions for U.S. Clinical Laboratories
- Compliance with Select Agent Regulations for Laboratories Handling Patient Specimens that are Known or Suspected to Contain Ebola Virus – Interim Guidance
Guidance & Recommendations
- Infection Prevention and Control for Hospitalized Patients with Known or Suspected Ebola in U.S. Hospitals
- Environmental Infection Control in Hospitals for Ebola Virus – Interim Guidance
- Safe Handling of Human Remains of Ebola Patients in U. S. Hospitals and Mortuaries
- Medical Waste Management
- Ebola virus disease Information for Clinicians in U.S. Healthcare Settings
- Safe Management of Patients with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in U.S. Hospitals