Updated Guidance Recommendations for Health Care Personnel and Health Officials Evaluating Patients for Possible Ebola Virus Disease

Early recognition is critical to controlling the spread of Ebola virus. Consequently, healthcare personnel should elicit the 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. Should the patient report a history of recent travel to one of the affected West African countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea) and exhibit such symptoms, immediate action should be taken. The Ebola algorithm for the evaluation of a returned traveler and the checklist for evaluation of a patient being evaluated for Ebola are available at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/ebola-algorithm.pdf and http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/checklist-patients-evaluated-us-evd.pdf .

Patients in whom a diagnosis of Ebola is being considered should be isolated in a single room (with a private bathroom), and healthcare personnel should follow standard, contact, and droplet precautions, including the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Infection control personnel and the local health department should be immediately contacted for consultation. 

The following guidance documents provide additional information about clinical presentation and clinical course of Ebola virus disease, infection control, and patient management:

The case definitions for persons under investigation (PUI) for Ebola, probable cases, and confirmed cases as well as classification of exposure risk levels are at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/case-definition.html.

Persons at highest risk of developing infection are:

  • those who have had direct contact with the blood and body fluids of an individual diagnosed with  Ebola – this includes any person who provided care for an Ebola patient, such as a healthcare provider or family member not adhering to recommended infection control precautions (i.e., not wearing recommended PPE
     
  • those who have had close physical contact with an individual diagnosed with Ebola
     
  • those who lived with or visited the Ebola-diagnosed patient while he or she was ill.

Persons who have been exposed, but who are asymptomatic, should be instructed to monitor their health for the development of fever or symptoms for 21 days after the last exposure. Guidelines for monitoring and movement of persons who have been exposed to Ebola are available at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/monitoring-and-movement-of-persons-with-exposure.html.

Diagnostic tests are available for detection of Ebola at LRN laboratories as well as CDC. Consultation with CDC is required before shipping specimens to CDC. Information about diagnostic testing for Ebola can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/interim-guidance-specimen-collection-submission-patients-suspected-infection-ebola.html.

Healthcare personnel in the United States should immediately contact their state or local health department regarding any person being evaluated for Ebola if the medical evaluation suggests that diagnostic testing may be indicated. If there is a high index of suspicion, U.S. health departments should immediately report any probable cases or persons under investigation (PUI)   (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/case-definition.html) to CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100.