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How Does Ebola Affect Me?

Thursday, October 16, 2014 | 12:10 AM

Lakeland Community Hospital is working closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure our hospital is prepared with the appropriate plans to detect, protect and respond should anyone in our community contract or be exposed to the Ebola virus.  While we have not treated any patients with Ebola at our hospital, and there have been no confirmed cases in Alabama, out of an abundance of caution, Lakeland has taken steps to prepare our organization in the event that a patient presents with signs and symptoms of this infection.  Below are some common questions regarding Ebola Virus Disease and the necessary precautions that our facility has taken: 


What is Ebola?

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease that is native to several African countries. It is caused by infection with Ebola virus, which is contracted through direct contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, contact with contaminated objects (such as needles), or contact with infected animals.


Who is at risk?

Those at risk for EVD include:

·         People who have resided in or travelled internationally to countries where cases of EVD have been reported (West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria):

·         People who have been in close contact with a person who is ill with EVD:

·         People who have handled bats, rodents or primates from areas where EVD transmission is active; and

·         Healthcare workers who have treated patients with EVD.


What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include fever (greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit), severe headache, joint and muscle pain, sore throat, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained bruising or bleeding. Some patients also experience skin rashes, red eyes and internal bleeding.


When do symptoms appear after infection?

Symptoms can appear anywhere from 8 to 21 days after infection. The incubation period for EVD – the time from exposure to when signs or symptoms appear -- is usually 8-10 days, but can range from 2-21 days. The risk for transmission is greatest during the later stages of the illness. Ebola cannot be transmitted in the incubation period or early stages of the virus, i.e., before a fever or other symptoms are present.



Is there a vaccine for EVD?

No vaccine currently exists for EVD.

However, the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are leading the effort to develop and test vaccines and new treatments. Some investigational vaccines have been developed. The NIH recently announced that initial human testing of an investigational vaccine to treat Ebola would begin in September, and a vaccine developed through the U.S. Department of Defense also will start testing in humans later this year.


How is EVD treated?

EVD symptoms are treated with supportive care, including providing intravenous fluids and balancing electrolytes, maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating other infections that may occur.


What are the potential complications of EVD infection?

Data gathered on patients who have recovered from EVD show long-term complications ranging from joint and muscle pain to vision problems. EVD can potentially be fatal. Recovery depends on early diagnosis, good clinical care, and the patient’s immune response. Evidence shows that people who recover from EVD infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.


How can I prevent transmission?

Basic infection control procedures and good hygiene can prevent infection. Just like any other virus, EVD can be prevented by:

·         Avoiding contact with people who are sick or display signs and symptoms that indicate illness, including sharing food, cups or eating utensils;

·         Washing your hands frequently  – or, if soap and water aren’t available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol;

·         Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;

·         Disinfecting your home and belongings regularly; and

·         Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue or your sleeve or elbow (not your hands).



What procedures are in place at Lakeland Community Hospital to keep patients and our communities safe?


Our hospital follows infection control procedures as recommended by the CDC and our state health department. Routine infection control procedures that are used to prevent the spread of any viral illness also can control and manage Ebola cases and ensure the safety of other patients in the hospital.

While we do not anticipate Ebola impacting our community, out of an abundance of caution, we have:

·         Implemented new screening processes to identify patients who have traveled to countries affected by Ebola, or who have had contact with someone who has traveled to those countries;

·         Practiced appropriate isolation procedures in the event a patient presents with symptoms (Dedicated isolation rooms have been designated for patients who may have been exposed to Ebola and protective gear has been provided in all areas for our employees)

·         Evaluated our supply of personal protective equipment (PPE); and

·         Distributed detailed guidance to all hospital staff regarding the appropriate steps to prevent the spread of infection and the proper procedures for handling a patient who has, or is suspected to have, an EVD infection.

·         Involved in ongoing webinars and conference calls with CDC, Alabama Department of Public Health and the American Hospital Association.

·         Our Infection Preventionist is actively involved in the local Association for Professionals in Infection control and Epidemiology (APIC).

·         Stop signs have been placed at entrances asking anyone who has a fever and has traveled outside the country, or who has had exposure to an international traveler to notify staff.


Has EVD spread to the United States?

On September 30, 2014, the CDC confirmed the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had travelled from Liberia to Dallas, Texas. The patient had no symptoms when leaving West Africa but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the United States. The patient sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, was evaluated and discharged, and later readmitted and tested for Ebola infection. His diagnosis was confirmed and attempts to control his infection, which was quite progressed, began.  He died on October 8.

According to media sources, two health care providers have since tested positive for EBV. 

How can I find out more information?

You may contact Lakeland Community Hospital at 205-486-5213 and request Jennifer Young or Cathy Mitchell with questions, or talk to your doctor or primary healthcare provider. We are currently providing ongoing training and guidance on identifying, managing and treating EVD.  You also can visit the CDC Ebola site at www.cdc/gov/ebola, or the World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola virus disease (EVD) site: www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en.


Lakeland Community Hospital is committed to making Winston County and our surrounding communities healthier.  We want to ensure the community that we are taking appropriate precautionary measures to keep our employees, visitors, and community safe and prevent the spread of this virus. 



Jennifer Young – Director of Infection Prevention, Quality/Risk Management and Patient Safety

Cathy Mitchell – Chief Nursing Officer

Cindy Nichols – Chief Executive Officer




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