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Prevention

MSF (Medicins Sans Frontiers) health staff in protective clothing constructing perimeter for isolation ward.

MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) health staff in protective clothing constructing perimeter for isolation ward.

Because we still do not know exactly how people are infected with Ebola, few primary prevention measures have been established and no vaccine exists.

When cases of the disease do appear, risk of transmission is increased within healthcare settings. Therefore, healthcare workers must be able to recognize a case of Ebola and be ready to use practical viral hemorrhagic fever isolation precautions or barrier nursing techniques. They should also have the capability to request diagnostic tests or prepare samples for shipping and testing elsewhere.

Barrier nursing techniques include:

  • wearing of protective clothing (such as masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles)
  • using infection-control measures (such as complete equipment sterilization and routine use of disinfectant)
  • isolating patients with Ebola from contact with unprotected persons.

The aim of all of these techniques is to avoid contact with the blood or secretions of an infected patient. If a patient with Ebola dies, direct contact with the body of the deceased patient should be avoided.

CDC, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, has developed a set of guidelines to help prevent and control the spread of Ebola. Entitled Infection Control for Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers in the African Health Care Setting, the manual describes how to

  • recognize cases of viral hemorrhagic fever (such as Ebola)
  • prevent further transmission in healthcare setting by using locally available materials and minimal financial resources.

If you must travel to an area with known Ebola cases, make sure to do the following:

  • Practice careful hygiene. Avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.
  • Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
  • After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.

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