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For General Healthcare Settings in West Africa: Guidance for Drawing Blood Safely When Caring for Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) or Patients with Confirmed Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

Healthcare workers should carefully and rigorously follow these below instructions when drawing blood from patients under investigation (PUIs) or patients with confirmed Ebola virus disease (EVD ).

Page Summary

Who this is for: Healthcare workers who work or will be working in general healthcare settings in West Africa. These considerations are not intended for those working in Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) or Ebola Care Centers (ECCs).

What this is for: To reduce the risk of injury and infection in healthcare workers drawing blood while caring for PUIs or patients with confirmed EVD.

How to use: Follow these recommended practices for safely drawing blood and handling sharps.

Key Points

  • Needle sticks and injuries from sharp objects can transmit infections including EVD and other diseases like HIV and hepatitis.
  • It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that blood collection for EVD testing be performed only at an Ebola Treatment Center.
  • Following recommended guidelines, including use of personal protective equipment, can greatly reduce the risk of injury and transmission of infectious disease.

When drawing blood in a patient care setting, it is important to remember that needle sticks and injuries from sharp objects can transmit infections, including EVD and other diseases like HIV and hepatitis.

Basic Sharps Safety Guidelines

  • Always wear gloves.
  • Always work slowly and carefully when using needles.
  • Always discard uncapped needles immediately after use in a container designated for disposal of sharps (a sharps container).
  • Ask to see where the sharps containers are located in the clinic. There should be one container in every patient care area. Ask how sharps are disposed of at your facility.
  • Close, seal, and send sharps containers for incineration when they become three-quarters (3/4 or 75%) full.
  • Always check to see if there is an oral version of a medication available. Whenever possible, use oral medications instead of injectable medications.

Use retracting needles if you have access to them (some clinics will not have these on hand).

  • DO NOT recap a used needle.
  • DO NOT bend or break used needles or other sharp instruments.
  • DO NOT walk around with uncapped needles.
  • DO NOT overfill sharps containers.

General Principles for Drawing Blood Safely in PUIs or Patients with confirmed EVD

These principles apply to all samples, including samples collected in the community, at health facilities or in general healthcare settings, and in treatment centers.

  • It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that blood collection for EVD testing only be performed at an Ebola treatment center.
  • All blood and other samples should be considered highly infectious.
  • All samples collected from EVD patients (blood and urine) should be triple-packaged and decontaminated BEFORE transport.

DOs and DON’Ts of Collecting Blood


  • Wear PPE when drawing blood.
  • Make sure the blood collection tube is labeled with patient name and date of collection.
  • Ask an assistant to help with blood collection and packaging the tube of blood.


  • DO NOT rush when putting on PPE or while drawing blood.
  • DO NOT recap needles.