Ebola in the United States
There are currently 3 confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, and about 300 contacts and possible contacts being traced for surveillance. The first case was a traveler from West Africa who developed symptoms 4 days after arriving in Dallas. He has since died from the illness. The other two cases were healthcare workers who were in contact with the initial case.
Transmission of the Ebola virus occurs when contact is made with the blood or body fluids of an infected person who is presenting with Ebola symptoms, or with surfaces that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of an infected person.
The most effective method of infection prevention is by reducing contact with known Ebola patients:
- Wearing gloves or full personal protective equipment (PPE) when making contact with or caring for an infected person
- Washing hands frequently
The incubation period, which is the time frame from infection to the onset of symptoms, of the Ebola virus is 2 to 21 days. An infected person is not contagious until symptoms are developed. Symptoms include sudden onset of:
- Muscle pain
- Unexplained bleeding
There is no specific treatment or vaccine available for Ebola Virus Disease. However, there are several potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies as well as two potential vaccines that are currently being evaluated and undergoing safety testing.
Supportive-care rehydration with oral and/or IV fluids along with the treatment of specific symptoms can improve the recovery and survival of infected persons who seek treatment.
Risk Factors in the United States:
- Travelers who have visited affected regions, or who have been in contact with someone who recently traveled to the affected regions
- Healthcare workers who do not strictly follow infection control precautions while caring for an Ebola infected patient.