Ten experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – supported 24/7 by the CDC’s full Emergency Operations Center and Ebola experts in CDC’s Atlanta headquarters – have arrived in Texas and are working closely with Texas state and local health departments to investigate the first Ebola case in the United States. Nine members of the CDC team arrived last night and one arrived today.
The CDC team consists of three senior scientists with expertise in public health investigations and infection control; a communications officer; five Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers – CDC’s disease detectives -- and a public health advisor.
These CDC experts will assist state and local health departments find, assess, and assist everyone who came into contact with the Ebola patient between the time he became symptomatic (before having symptoms, people with Ebola cannot spread the infection) and the time he was placed in an isolation ward. The CDC experts will help ensure that proper infection control procedures are followed, and monitor healthcare workers treating or attending to the patient. Long experience shows that these tried-and-true core public health interventions stop the spread of Ebola
“We are stopping Ebola in its tracks in this country,” says CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “We can do that because of two things: strong infection control that stops the spread of Ebola in health care; and strong core public health functions to trace contacts, track contacts, isolate them if they have any symptoms and stop the chain of transmission. I am certain we will control this.”
The CDC team now is:
• Making sure the patient is receiving treatment and is isolated;
• Interviewing the patient and close contacts, such as family members, to obtain detailed information on their travel history and exposures;
• Ensuring the hospital uses appropriate infection control measures;
• Identifying people who had close contact with the patient and
o interviewing them,
o monitoring them to see if they become ill,
o collecting and testing specimens from them, if needed, and
o requesting that they monitor their health and seek care if they develop symptoms; and
• Monitoring the health status of healthcare providers who cared for the patient
Any hospital following strict CDC infection control recommendations and that can isolate a patient in their own room with a private bathroom is capable of safely managing a patient with Ebola.
“We recognize that it is essential that appropriate measures are taken to prevent the virus from spreading,” Frieden says. “CDC is working closely with partners to implement those measures.”
Travelers from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, or Sierra Leone should monitor their health for symptoms, fever greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, severe headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding, for 21 days after travel. They should see a healthcare provider as soon as any of these symptoms develop, letting them know of their travel history and symptoms.
CDC is issuing a general reminder to travelers and healthcare providers on best practices. Healthcare providers should take a travel history from any person with symptoms of viral infection. They should consider Ebola in patients who develop fever greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, severe headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding 21 days after traveling from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, or Sierra Leone. They should immediately take infection control precautions and contact their state or local health department if they have any questions.
CDC and the state of Texas will post new information about Ebola on their websites:
• CDC website: www.cdc.gov/ebola
• Travelers’ Health: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/
• Texas Department of State Health Services website: https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/default.shtm
CDC is part of a whole-government approach to protecting the American public from Ebola and ending the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.