Ebola Preparedness

Facts About Ebola

  • According to the CDC, symptoms of Ebola include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain or unexplained bleeding or bruising.
  • Symptoms typically appear from two to 21 days after exposure, most commonly eight to 10 days later.
  • The Ebola virus is spread by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola, contact with objects like needles that have been contaminated or contact with infected animals.
  • Direct contact occurs through broken skin or contact with mucous membranes.
  • Body fluids that can spread Ebola include blood, urine, feces, saliva and other secretions.
  • Ebola is not transmitted through the air.
  • Ebola has no known, proven treatment.

UH Ebola Preparedness Plan

If a person suspected of having Ebola were to seek care at a University Hospitals facility, UH is prepared. That’s the message from Amy Ray, MD, MPH, an infectious disease specialist who has chaired the University Hospitals System Infection Control Committee since 2008.

“If a patient presents for care, we are prepared to deliver safe care. We will continue to remain vigilant to identify patients at risk, at or before the point of care, and provide our health care personnel with the optimal personal protective equipment,” she says. “Given global travel, it is within the realm of possibility that a patient may seek care at our facilities.”

UH has had an Ebola preparedness plan in place for several months, Dr. Ray says, long before the current situation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. It was developed by the UH System Infection Control Committee, which includes specialists in the prevention of infectious disease, hospital epidemiologists, corporate health employees and supply chain representatives. UH has also established an Ebola task force, led by Michael Anderson, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Ron Dziedzicki, Chief Operating Officer at UH Cleveland Medical Center, and Dr. Ray.

The infection control committee has communicated its Ebola preparedness plan throughout the UH system and has urged individual units to pose “what if” scenarios with their employees who provide direct patient care. “Tabletop exercises have been conducted system-wide in the setting of disaster preparedness meetings,” Dr. Ray says. “We also routinely include recommendations from the CDC as an important reference.”

Elements of the UH Ebola preparedness plan include:

  • TRAINING all UH employees who provide direct patient care to determine the travel history of patients who present with a fever
  • ISOLATING any patient with suspected or confirmed Ebola infection to a private room with a bathroom, preferably a negative-pressure room
  • PROVIDING health care workers treating a person suspected of having Ebola with appropriate personal protective equipment, including gowns/bodysuits, face shields/goggles, gloves and masks
  • PROVIDING N95 masks in the event of intubation or aerosol-generating procedures
  • LIMITING care of a patient suspected of having Ebola to essential personnel only
  • USING dedicated equipment to treat the patient
  • MINIMIZING unnecessary tests and blood draws

“We will continue to update our frontline personnel, including pre-hospital providers, as the epidemiology of Ebola viral infection evolves,” Dr. Ray says.