Identifying and Addressing Ebola Infections

Posted on November 18 2014

Healthcare workers may be faced with evaluating patients that are infected with the Ebola Virus. In order to limit false positives and safely treat those at risk of infection, the CDC has offered some suggestions for initial encounters.


If the patient has traveled to affected areas such as Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone, then there may be a possibility the Ebola virus may be present. Additionally, if the patient has been in contact with a person that has traveled to these regions, there may be a risk. However, if this is not a factor, then it is far less likely that any sickness may be caused by the Ebola virus.


Upon evaluation, there are a few symptoms that may signify the presence of the Ebola virus. In addition to a relevant travel or exposure history, symptoms such as fever, weakness, pain, diarrhea, vomiting, or unexplained hemorrhage may signify an Ebola infection. Some more prominent symptoms include:


- Fever greater than or equal to 100.4F (38C)

- Abdominal Pain

- Severe headache

- Muscle pain and/or weakness

- Vomiting and/or diarrhea

- Hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)


If there is an indication that the Ebola virus may be present, contact the local health department and CDC immediately to determine if Ebola testing is necessary. In the meantime, follow the following steps:


- Isolate the patient in a separate room with private bathroom

- Activate the hospital preparedness plan

- Follow all PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) use and disposal protocols

- Attend to any patient medical needs

- Evaluate the patient for alternative diagnoses

- Detail information regarding symptoms, contacts, and travel

- Perform only necessary procedures and tests

- Ensure patient communication with family

- Only allow visitors wearing appropriate PPE


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