In response to the first case of Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola) diagnosed in the United States, the CDC issued an advisory asking all healthcare providers—who may be the first to encounter a patient with symptoms consistent with the disease—to:
- increase their vigilance in inquiring about a history of travel to West Africa in the 21 days before illness onset for any patient presenting with fever or other symptoms consistent with Ebola;
- isolate patients who report a travel history to an Ebola-affected country (currently Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea) who are exhibiting Ebola symptoms in a private room with a private bathroom and implement standard, contact and droplet precautions (gowns, facemask, eye protection, and gloves); and
- immediately notify the local/state health department.
The CDC advisory describes Ebola as a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of four viruses, which is associated with fever of greater than 101.5°F, and additional symptoms such as severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or unexplained hemorrhage.
The CDC advises that early recognition is critical to controlling the spread of Ebola virus and recommends that healthcare personnel should ask for a patient’s travel history and consider the possibility of Ebola in patients who present with fever, myalgia, severe headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea or unexplained bleeding or bruising. If the patient reports a history of recent travel to one of the affected West African countries—Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea—and exhibits any of those symptoms, the CDC recommends taking immediate action.