About Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is an acute, serious illness that is often fatal if untreated. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa. Though the natural source host of Ebola virus remains unknown, based on evidence and the general nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that bats are the most likely source. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), four of the five virus strains occur in an animal host native to Africa.
Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected wild animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, and other animals found ill or dead.
Human-to-human transmission of Ebola virus is only possible through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, or with materials and objects that have been contaminated with these fluids.
People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
Preventing the spread of the disease is critical if a potential Ebola patient is identified.
The Infection control team at South Shore Hospital is prepared to go above and beyond the infection control protocols established by the CDC, which begin with placing the patient in isolation. All clinicians providing direct care would wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) beyond CDC recommendations. The training and guidelines are currently in place where colleagues are physically practicing using PPE and receiving supplemental, factual information on EVD directly from the Infectious Disease department.