Ebola has made quite a few headlines the last few days. I live in Cleveland, so this topic has peaked my curiosity even more since the second nurse that has become infected traveled to my city. On an airline that I will be taking in a few short weeks.
There have been questions coming in asking if we have a course on Ebola. We do not, and here is the reason why.
There are a plethora of infectious disease or virus such as the common cold, Norovirus, MRSA, e. Coli, Enterovirus, Hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, H1N1 (Swine Flu - remember all the discussion surrounding that?), what was called the “superbug” last year, and seasonal influenza (I could list more, but you get the idea) that are out there that we deal with on a daily basis. Remember a while back when MRSA was the infectious disease of the time?? We were almost to space suits back then, and wanted to culture everyone that came into our buildings, including staff. How many deaths each year occur because of seasonal influenza? Far to many!
Here's the thing. Understanding of methods of transmission, use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and types of precautions to take (airborne, contact, droplet) in ANY situations are key to preventing the spread of the disease or from contracting it. If we practice fundamentals on a daily basis (i.e. standard precautions), we should be OK. Generally speaking, when there is an outbreak of ANY infectious disease it is because of a breach in the fundamentals. Someone did not have on the proper gear, did perform hand hygiene correctly, don't know that sneezing into ones hands is a no-no, or any number of breaches.
Ebola is not airborne per the CDC which differs from some information that is being disseminated on the internet. Per the CDC, Ebola is spread through the following:
- Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with
blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
- objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
- infected animals
- Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
Standard precautions should always be followed, no matter what!! But since Ebola is spread through direct contact, this means contact precautions should be in place. This means masks, gloves and eye protection should be worn when entering a room. Under standard precautions they should be worn anyway when there is the possibility of coming in contact with body fluids that may get on your clothes or splash in your face.
It cannot be said enough that hand hygiene is the most effective way to protect yourself and prevent the spread of anything. Practice it frequently and properly. Keep your hands away from your face. Monitor your staff for fundamental practices and that they are following your well established infection control protocols.
How can Relias help?
- Our infection control courses, including Transmission Based Precautions list the fundamental practices for infection control and the different types of isolation required for different infectious diseases.
- For those that are concerned about the spread of Ebola, we offer a course on our RLMS, Preparing for Pandemic Influenza (remember H1N1?). The principles in this course could be applied to ANY pandemic situation – which Ebola is NOT at this point.
- Ensure employees are practicing the fundamentals and taking do not coming to work when they are sick.
So, calm down and take a deep breath, look past the hype, and get to the heart of what the problem is - and go from there. If you want more information, here is the link to information on the CDC website.