5 Things to Understand About Ebola

On September 30, 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first case of Ebola in the U.S. Since then, there has been a great deal of buzz in the media and on social media about Ebola. As result, you probably have questions and concerns. What is Ebola? How do people become infected with it?  Do I need to worry about getting it? How do I protect myself?

What You Should Know

It’s important that you know the basics about Ebola shared by the CDC:

  1. Ebola is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising.
  2. Symptoms may appear 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola. A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear. On average, it takes between 8 to 10 days before any symptoms start to develop. The incubation period can last as long as 21 days. After 21 days, if an exposed person does not develop symptoms, they will not become sick with Ebola.
  3. Ebola is not spread through casual contact, air, water, or in general, by food grown or legally purchased in the U.S. Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen); objects contaminated with the virus (needles, medical equipment); and infected animals (by contact with blood, fluids or infected meat).
  4. Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients have the highest risk of getting sick. The reason for this is they may come in contact with the blood or body fluids of a sick person.
  5. Protect yourself with careful hygiene. There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola. It’s important to wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly. Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment.

Aurora Health Care is Prepared

Aurora is well-prepared to manage and contain infection disease exposures or contacts by following infection control guidelines and practices.

We have strict protocols in place to make sure we provide the highest level of care to every person, no matter what the medical diagnosis, while protecting the safety of everyone involved.

In the event of an Ebola case in our facilities, we will work collaboratively with local and state public health officials.

The Takeaway

Like all infectious diseases, the situation is being carefully monitored. The CDC says the chance of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is very low. And while all of the conversation is centered on Ebola, it’s important not to overlook regular, seasonal viruses like the flu, which can be prevented.

For the latest information on Ebola, please visit www.cdc.gov

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Smith, MD is the Chief Clinical Officer at Aurora Health Care. NO LONGER WITH AURORA.

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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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