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Get the facts on Ebola

By Dr. Anna Tran

By now you have heard the news. A third person has been diagnosed with Ebola here in Dallas. News of the virus has consumed the headlines recently -- not only here in Texas but across the country.

People are understandably concerned and seeking information to protect themselves and their families. Many healthcare providers also have questions about how to properly deal with Ebola in their hospitals and clinics. To calm fears and dispel misinformation, I want to share the information available to providers.

Get the facts on Ebola. Four things you can do today:

  • Get up to speed on the basics:
    • Symptoms consistent with Ebola
      • Fever
      • Headache, muscle aches, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea
    • Epidemiology
      • People are not infectious until they develop symptoms.
      • The time interval from infection to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days.
      • Two suggested questions to ask a patient for whom you suspect Ebola:
        • Have you been to West or Central African countries, in particular Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia, within the past three weeks?
        • Have you been in contact with blood or any body fluids of someone known or suspected to have Ebola within the past three weeks?
  • Review this CDC algorithm on triaging patients with suspected Ebola. For more in- depth information, you can use this CDC checklist.
  • If you have more questions, find your local health department on this searchable map.
  • Ask your local or state medical society to share this information as well.

The most important thing we can do to care for our patients and communities is to stay informed and make sure others are informed, too. Visit the CDC’s Ebola website to stay up-to-date on the latest information for healthcare workers.

Dr. Tran is a Medicine- Pediatric hospitalist in the Dallas- Fort Worth area and the State Director for Doctors for America.

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