Safe Management of Patients with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in U.S. Hospitals

Frequently Asked Questions

The recent EVD outbreak in West Africa has increased the possibility of patients traveling from the impacted countries to the United States. Additionally, two American citizens with EVD were medically evacuated to the United States to receive care at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The following are answers to frequently asked questions about the safety of this medical evacuation and the necessary infection control procedures to protect patients and healthcare providers in U.S. hospitals.

What should U.S. hospitals do if they have a patient with suspect EVD?

Early recognition is critical for infection control. Healthcare providers should be alert for and evaluate any patients suspected of having EVD who have (see EVD case definition(http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/case-definition.html)):

  1. A fever of 38.0 degrees Celsius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, and additional symptoms such as severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage;

    AND
     
  2. 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(http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/distribution-map.html); or direct handling of bats or nonhuman primates from disease-endemic areas. Malaria diagnostics should also be a part of initial testing because it is the most common cause of febrile illness in persons with a travel history to the affected countries.

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 (See CDC's laboratory testing guidance(http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/interim-guidance-specimen-collection-submission-patients-suspected-infection-ebola.html)):

  • 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 (i.e., thrombocytopenia <150,000 cells/µL and/or elevated transaminases).

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?

If a patient in a U.S. hospital is suspected or known to have Ebola virus disease, healthcare teams should follow standard, contact, and droplet precautions, including the following recommendations: