UPDATE 10/21/2014: The CDC issues new guidelines concerning safety protocols and personal safety equipment for U.S. healthcare workers treating patients with Ebola. New guidelines can be read in full on the CDC website here.
UPDATE 10/17/2014: The Illinois Department of Public Health has set up a 24-hour hotline to answer questions about Ebola. The number is 800-889-3931.
10/15/2014: After two recent secondary infections of healthcare workers in Dallas, NorthShore is taking further action to ensure the safety of our valued hospital staff, patients and visitors, including:
There have been no cases of Ebola in Illinois. For the latest information on
Ebola in the US and West Africa, please visit the CDC website here.
Becky Smith, MD, Chief Hospital Epidemiologist and attending in Infectious Diseases at NorthShore,
explains how we have prepared for high risk infections like Ebola in our hospital emergency departments and medical group offices in order to minimize the risk of the spread of the disease to our patients and staff:After recording the patient’s
name and date of birth, there are two important questions that must be asked prior to suspecting Ebola:
If you can answer “no” to either question, there is no reason to believe you have Ebola. You can be evaluated by your doctor in the usual manner because you do not have Ebola.In the unlikely event that
a patient in the Chicago area answers “yes” to both questions, NorthShore already has plans in place to handle this high-risk infection:
With the help of NorthShore’s Infection Control department, our community is working diligently to prepare for any suspected case of Ebola or other high-risk infectious disease,
and prevent its spread.
Thomson, PhD, Director of the Microbiology Laboratory and Division Head of Clinical Pathology at NorthShore, provides answers to some common questions regarding the Ebola virus:
How is it transmitted?
It is not known to be airborne. Ebola is passed through direct contact with bodily fluids and specimens from patients infected with the virus. So it is family, caretakers and healthcare workers with close contact to an infected person who face the
greatest risk if they don’t take the right precautions.
Can you contract Ebola from contact with someone who does not exhibit any symptoms?
No. An individual who is infected but not exhibiting symptoms is not contagious. If a person is symptomatic, he or she can spread the virus but only through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood. So, as an example, if you were sitting next
to someone on a plane who developed symptoms of Ebola a week or 10 days later, you were not at risk for infection because they were asymptomatic at the time.
How are American healthcare workers being infected with the virus?
Unfortunately, the ability of healthcare workers in Africa to protect themselves is different from the ability of healthcare workers to protect themselves in the United States. They do not have the facilities that we have here in this country. In the
U.S., we have the facilities and training to handle many different infections of various risks. And while Ebola presents one of the greatest risks to healthcare workers, we have procedures in place that will be used to handle any Ebola patients who enter the
How is the spread of the virus to the United States being prevented?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have specific procedures in place to follow if they feel that someone on a plane is symptomatic. That person would arrive in the United States and be put immediately in the
appropriate containment in one of our hospitals. They also have screening efforts ongoing in West Africa to prevent symptomatic persons from getting on planes. By following those procedures, the spread of the virus into the United States is very unlikely.