Since March 2014, West Africa has experienced the largest outbreak of Ebola in history. To date, four cases have been diagnosed in the United States – two imported cases, including one patient who died, and two locally acquired cases in health care workers. The first travel-associated case of Ebola was confirmed in Texas on Sept. 30, 2014. On Oct. 12, 2014 a health care worker who provided care for the index patient tested positive for Ebola, and on Oct. 14, 2014 a second health care worker reported to the hospital. Both health care workers recovered. The fourth case was reported on Oct. 23, 2014 in a medical aid worker who had returned to New York City from Guinea.
What are the symptoms?
Ebola Virus Disease is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the virus though 8 to 10 days is most common.
How is it transmitted?
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person who is ill or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions. It is not a respiratory illness and it is not airborne.
Who is at risk?
Health care providers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick.
What are the available treatments?
Currently, there are no FDA-approved vaccines or medicines to treat Ebola. Supportive treatments are provided to those who are ill and an experimental vaccine is under development.
Is the Southern Nevada Health District prepared to respond to a potential case of Ebola in Southern Nevada?
The Southern Nevada Health District has plans in place and conducts exercises and activities to ensure its readiness to respond to a variety of biological threats, including infectious disease outbreaks. When outbreaks such as this occur, the Health District provide information to health care providers, hospitals, first responders, and others to prepare for and respond to the challenge of a new infectious disease threat. The health district provides information about how the disease is spread, holds meetings with health care, response partners, and stakeholders, and develop tools such as a patient evaluation algorithm. In the event a case is identified in Clark County, the Health District would coordinate with the state to request assistance from the CDC, and hospitals in Clark County are fully capable of effectively isolating potentially infectious patients.
In addition to these activities, the Health District is prepared to monitor contacts of suspected and probable cases and make recommendations for isolation and quarantine. The Southern Nevada Public Health Laboratory also provides consultation with other laboratories for Ebola virus testing and safety and is prepared to accept and ship specimens immediately to the CDC for testing.
The Health District works closely with state and federal health officials, as well as its local response partners in order to maintain its readiness to respond.
Up to date information on the West Africa Ebola outbreak is available on the CDC website.