Frequently Asked Questions about Ebola
As a result of the recent Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in Africa, Meridian Health is taking the necessary precautions in the unlikely event the outreach reaches our area. Please note that all Meridian hospitals follow the Centers for Disease Control's infection control recommendations and are prepared to care for any suspected patient with Ebola Virus Disease.
What are the signs and symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease?
1) Clinical criteria, which includes fever of greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and additional symptoms such as severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage.
2) Epidemiologic risk factors within the past 3 weeks before the onset of symptoms, such as contact with blood or other body fluids of a patient known to have or suspected to have EVD; residence in-or travel to-an area where EVD transmission is active, i.e. in this case Western Africa; or direct handling of bats, rodents, or primates from disease-endemic areas. Malaria diagnostics should also be a part of initial testing because it is a common cause of febrile illness in persons with a travel history to the affected countries.
Are Meridian hospitals prepared to care for patients with Ebola Virus Disease?
Yes, Meridian hospitals follow the Centers for Disease Control's infection control recommendations and can isolate a patient in a private room.
When should patients with suspected EVD in U.S. hospitals be tested?
CDC recommends testing for all persons with onset of fever within 21 days of having a high-risk exposure such as:
. percutaneous or mucous membrane exposure or direct skin contact with body fluids of a person with a confirmed or suspected case of EVD without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE),
. laboratory processing of body fluids of suspected or confirmed EVD cases without appropriate PPE or standard biosafety precautions, or
. participation in funeral rites or other direct exposure to human remains in the geographic area where the outbreak is occurring without appropriate PPE.
For persons with a high-risk exposure but without a fever, testing is recommended only if there are other compatible clinical symptoms present and blood work findings are abnormal.
If a patient in a U.S. hospital is identified to have suspected or confirmed EVD, what infection control precautions should be put into place?
. Isolate the patient: Patients should be isolated in a single patient room (containing a private bathroom) with the door closed.
. Wear appropriate PPE: Healthcare providers entering the patients room should wear: gloves, gown (fluid resistant or impermeable), eye protection (goggles or face shield), and a facemask. Additional protective equipment might be required in certain situations (e.g., copious amounts of blood, other body fluids, vomit, or feces present in the environment), including but not limited to double gloving, disposable shoe covers, and leg coverings.
. Restrict visitors: Avoid entry of visitors into the patient's room. Exceptions may be considered on a case by case basis for those who are essential for the patient's well being. A logbook should be kept to document all persons entering the patient's room.
. Avoid aerosol-generating procedures: Avoid aerosol-generating procedures. If performing these procedures, PPE should include respiratory protection (N95 or higher filtering facepiece respirator) and the procedure should be performed in an airborne infection isolation room.
. Implement environmental infection control measures: Diligent environmental cleaning and disinfection and safe handling of potentially contaminated materials is of paramount importance, as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine and other body secretions represent potentially infectious materials should be done following hospital protocols.
For more information, please visit our Ebola Resource Center.
About Meridian Health
Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and outpatient centers. Meridian Health has consistently been rated among the top performing health systems in New Jersey for clinical quality, is one of the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For", and is the recipient of numerous state and national recognitions for patient care and nursing excellence. For more information, please visit www.MeridianHealth.com.