Facts about Ebola Virus

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Thu, October 30, 2014 -- Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System

How is Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System (HRHS) protecting patients, visitors and staff from Ebola?
HRHS has a robust infection control system and our staff is trained and prepared to take care of patients with a variety of infectious diseases, including Ebola.  The System’s entities are screening all patients coming into the facilities for travel history and suspicious symptoms. HRHS is prepared to follow all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) protocols, including isolating patients and taking proper infection control precautions to avoid exposure and exposing others.

What precautions does the CDC require of HRHS?

HRHS is prepared to follow all CDC precautions:

  • Isolating patients with Ebola or Ebola symptoms from other patients.
  • Wearing protective clothing, including masks, gloves, gowns, and eye protection.
  • Practicing proper infection control and sterilization measures.
  • Notifying health officials if anyone has direct contact with the blood or body fluids, such as but not limited to feces, saliva, urine, vomit, and semen of a person who is sick with Ebola.

What is Ebola Virus Disease?
Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains.

How is Ebola transmitted?
Ebola viruses are transmitted through direct contact with blood or body fluids. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, food.

What does “direct contact” mean?
Direct contact means that body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces) from an infected person (alive or dead) have touched someone’s eyes, nose, or mouth or an open cut, wound, or abrasion.

What are body fluids?
Ebola has been detected in blood and many body fluids. Body fluids include saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen.

Can Ebola spread by coughing or sneezing?
Respiratory illnesses like measles or chickenpox can be transmitted by virus particles that remain suspended in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes. Ebola is only transmitted by direct contact with body fluids of a person who has symptoms of Ebola disease. Coughing and sneezing are not common symptoms of Ebola, but if a patient with Ebola coughs or sneezes on someone, and saliva or mucus come into contact with that person’s eyes, nose or mouth, these fluids may transmit the disease.

Can Ebola be spread through mosquitoes?
There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola viruses. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have shown the ability to spread and become infected with the Ebola virus.

How long does Ebola live outside the body?
Ebola is killed with hospital-grade disinfectants (such as household bleach). Ebola on dried surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops can survive for several hours; however, virus in body fluids (such as blood) can survive up to several days at room temperature.

Where can I find more information about Ebola?
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/