Ebola

5 Ebola Facts We Want You To Know

Update 10/24

Because we are receiving so many questions about the hospital’s preparation for handling Ebola we wanted to provide this update. Our hospital is fully equipped and prepared to handle any infectious disease. While Ebola is very deadly, transmission is well understood. With proper planning, we can dramatically decrease the risk to our patients, families and staff. Preparation is the key and we are on top of that. At Nationwide Children’s, our advantage is we have good infection control practices and supplies are ready if there is a suspected case.

We started to prepare in August 2014 for the possibility of seeing a patient with suspected or confirmed Ebola. How do we prepare? Many employees from different specialties make this a top priority. A core planning group meets regularly, and includes nurses, physicians, educators, and infection control practitioners. The group reports directly to senior administration, and limits the size of the group so that we can rapidly respond to questions/issues. The team works with other areas of the hospital, such as inpatient units, the Emergency Department, and multiple support services throughout the hospital. There are other factors needed when preparing for an unusual outbreak of an illness, or even the remote chance of seeing a patient with a rare, but highly contagious, disease.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital cannot work alone. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reviewed on a daily basis. The hospital works closely with Columbus Public Health as well as the Ohio Department of Health. A recent meeting included hospital representatives from various institutions, emergency services, and public health to pool resources and share plans. The attention from national media has been a bit sensational. Yes, Ebola is a serious disease but there is no reason to panic. Hopefully, knowing that a world class pediatric hospital is here in Columbus helps reassure parents the best care is available right here.

Here at Nationwide Children’s, you will be seeing signs asking families to notify the receptionist immediately if within the past 21 days you have traveled to Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, or Senegal or if you have had contact with someone suspected to have Ebola AND have any of the symptoms.

Here are 5 things you need to know to better understand Ebola.

1. What is Ebola? The Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. This is a severe, often fatal disease in humans in countries with limited health care. Ebola is caused by infection and symptoms usually begin abruptly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first Ebola virus species was discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically.

2. How does it spread? You can’t get Ebola through the air. You can’t get Ebola through water. You can’t get Ebola through food. You can only get Ebola through touching bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola or from exposure to contaminated objects such as needles. Ebola spreads more like HIV (blood, body fluids), than flu (respiratory). It may be possible to spread this virus by sexual activity.

3. What are the symptoms?

  • Fever (greater than or equal to 100.4°F or a history of fever within the last 24 hours)
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hemorrhage

4. How do I protect myself?

  • Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of any person, particularly someone who is sick.
  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
  • Do not touch the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Do not touch bats and nonhuman primates or their blood and fluids and do not touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever (temperature of 100.4°F) and any of the other following symptoms: headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.
  • Limit your contact with other people until and when you go to the doctor. Do not travel anywhere else besides a healthcare facility.

5. Stay educated. Instead of letting the attention Ebola is getting create fear and panic, arm yourself with the facts. The CDC offers great, easy to understand information, especially on their Questions and Answers to Ebola page.

ebola infographic cdc

Dennis Cunningham, MD
Dennis J. Cunningham, MD, is a member of the Section of Infectious Diseases at Nationwide Children's Hospital and an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

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