Below is a Q&A to help you better understand Ebola and the precautions and protocols MetroHealth is taking to keep patients and health care workers safe.
What is Ebola?
Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is caused by an infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Its origins are unknown but believed to be from bats. The Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976.
What are the symptoms?
According to WHO, first symptoms are the sudden onset of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools).
What do I do if I have a fever or other Ebola symptoms?
Your first question should be – have I been exposed to a person with Ebola? And if so, were bodily fluids exchanged? If the answer is no, you do not have Ebola. Ebola is not airborne and cannot be spread through any other means except bodily fluids.
If the answer is yes, please call 2-1-1 to reach the United Way helpline.
United Way 2-1-1 is on the front line with other Northeast Ohio emergency management and public health officials. United Way 2-1-1 callers will be triaged according to CDC guidelines and referred to the appropriate local resources.
How long after someone is exposed to the virus do symptoms begin?
Symptoms can appear between 2 – 21 days from exposure.
How is Ebola spread?
Ebola is spread through close contact with bodily fluids such as blood, vomit, feces, sweat. The virus is not spread through the air.
Which African countries have been hardest hit?
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
How is Ebola cured?
There is no specific cure. Patients require intensive supportive care including intravenous hydration or oral rehydration with solutions that contain electrolytes.
What causes death?
Ebola patients typically die from low blood pressure due to fluid loss (hemorrhaging) and organ failure.
What is MetroHealth doing to prepare?
MetroHealth has established a task force headed by Infection Prevention comprised of health care workers and staff to ensure protocols and practices are in place in the event an Ebola patient enters the system.
- Signs are posted at all main reception areas requesting patients to inform staff if they have traveled to West Africa in the last 21 days or have been exposed to someone with Ebola virus and are experiencing symptoms.
- If a suspected patient enters MetroHealth they will be immediately put into an isolated room and will be cared for by a trained medical team wearing personal protective equipment. Lab work will be sent to the Ohio Department of Health in Columbus, OH to confirm diagnosis.
- Extra personal protective equipment has been ordered and distributed to all MetroHealth locations.
- Strict protocols and practices will be enforced to limit exposure through securing the patient’s room, monitoring the number of people who will be caring for the patient, proper handling of bio hazardous waste, and cleaning and disinfecting rooms by trained personnel.