What is Ebola?
Ebola is a virus that was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in Africa. Sporadic outbreaks have occurred in Africa since then. There are five (5) strains of Ebola that infect animals in Africa. Four of the strains infect humans.
What are the Signs & Symptoms of Ebola?
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising. Ebola can only be spread when symptoms begin. Symptoms typically occur between 8 to 10 days after infection. However, symptoms may occur as late as 21 days after exposure to Ebola.
How is Ebola Spread?
If a person is ill with Ebola virus, they can spread it by blood, body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen). It can also be transmitted via objects contaminated with the virus (like needles and syringes). Lastly, it can spread via infected bats, apes, gorillas, and monkeys. (http://1.usa.gov/1rCptdl)
Where is the Ebola Outbreak? Where Has Ebola Spread?
This year is the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It has taken place largely in West Africa. Currently, areas designated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as having widespread transmission of Ebola are in West Africa, specifically Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Countries that have had travel associated transmission and local transmission are (Port Harcourt and Lagos) Nigeria, (Madrid) Spain, and (Dallas and New York City), New York. Countries that have had travel associated transmission are (Kayes) Mali and (Dakar) Senegal.
Are there are recent updates in Florida?
As of October 26, 2014, Florida Governor Scott issued an order mandating the Department of Health to have a 21 day monitoring of anyone who has returned from areas where individuals have been infected by Ebola virus, as designated by the CDC. (http://bit.ly/1wH4o6M) New York, New Jersey, Illinois and now Florida have instituted a 21 day health evaluation plan. Twice daily monitoring is to include measuring temperature twice daily. Gov. Scott also stated that if individuals monitored are assessed to be high-risk, then a mandatory quarantine will be required.
Are There U.S. Guidelines for Healthcare Workers Caring for Patients with Ebola?
The CDC has issued guidelines for healthcare workers and healthcare settings for those caring for patients infected with, suspected to be infected with, or having died of Ebola. (http://1.usa.gov/1yJblVf) There are also CDC Ebola waste management guidelines. On October 14, 2014, the CDC admitted that they were unprepared for Ebola in the U.S. (http://bit.ly/1E4V6F4) Since then, the CDC has formed the previously mentioned guidelines.
Are there flight Restrictions from Africa?
As of October 21, 2014, the U.S. Homeland security Department announced that travelers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have limited airport entry into the U.S. They are limited to five (5) international airports in New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, DC. These airports will have extra screening of passengers for possible Ebola exposure, which include taking temperatures and other assessments as well. All U.S. airports are screen for possible Ebola exposure. (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/ebola-algorithm.pdf) Currently, there is no travel ban from or to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to U.S. due to Ebola.
It is highly unlikely that Ebola will spread in the U.S. as it has in endemic West Africa. However, we must keep a vigilant eye on developments, travel screenings are necessary, and healthcare workers must follow CDC guidelines to prevent spread of this disease.