US Hospitals Implement Initiatives to Ease Concerns of an Ebola Outbreak

Published Online: July 31, 2014
Katie Sullivan, MA
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of the Ebola virus spreading to the United States remains low. Still, many US healthcare stakeholders are now taking steps to ensure that the disease does not spread to state-bound Americans. So far, the disease—which kills 90% of people who become infected with it—has infected more than 1,200 people in 3 West African countries and killed an estimated 700 of them.

In Boston, Massachusetts, hospitals have trained staff to recognize the warning signs of the Ebola virus in patients. They are also being instructed to ask them about their recent travel history, and so that they can isolate those who have may have been exposed to the virus. The practices makes sense, especially since earlier this week a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, faced a potential Ebola exposure scare. A patient arrived at the Carolinas Medical Center Emergency Department after visiting a country with a high risk of infectious disease. Although the patient did not show signs of Ebola, the heightened awareness of a potential Ebola infection made staff attentive to taking precautions.

“We do not anticipate this will spread in the US if an infected person is hospitalized here but we are taking action now by alerting healthcare workers in the US and reminding them how to isolate and test suspected patients while following strict infection control procedures.” said CDC director Dr Tom Frieden.

Meanwhile, other groups such as the Peace Corps have decided to pull volunteers out of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the counties where the Ebola virus is spreading most rampantly. 2 Peace Corps volunteers are in isolation outside the US following contact with a person who later died from the Ebola virus. While not symptomatic, they are being observed until their health statuses can be confirmed via diagnostic testing.

“We need to build systems to find cases quickly before they spread,” said Stephan Monroe of CDC’s National Center for Emerging & Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. “This means strong health systems throughout the region.”

Around the Web

Little Risk: Ebola's Just One Flight Away, But Risk Is Low, CDC Says [NBC]

Boston Hospitals Training Staff To Watch For Signs Of Ebola Virus [CBS Boston]

Ebola Scare Briefly Closes Charlotte ER [NBC]

Peace Corps Pulls Volunteers From African Countries Over Ebola [NBC]