Following detection of the first case of the Ebola virus in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) are asking physicians to place screening criteria in all emergency departments, ambulances and other “first contact” locations.
“Every healthcare organization should ensure it can detect a patient with Ebola, protect healthcare workers so they can safely care for the patient, and respond in a coordinated fashion,” the agencies said in an email.
The CDC suggests that emergency department screen for:
- Fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and lack of appetite, and in some cases bleeding.
- Travel to West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone or other countries where Ebola virus disease transmission has been reported by WHO) within 21 days (3 weeks) of symptom onset.
If both criteria are met, then the patient should be moved to a private room with a bathroom, and standard, contact and droplet precautions followed during further assessment.
The CDC website for health care providers offers more information on diagnosis and testing, protection and how to safely manage patients with the virus. Additional resources can be found on the ASPR website.