Update from South Peninsula Hospital Oct. 19, 2014
Although South Peninsula Hospital has not yet treated anyone who falls into the risk category for Ebola, when needed we will utilize the screening criteria for patient isolation as set forth by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) as follows:
Fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting,
stomach pain, lack of appetite and, in some cases, bleeding,
recent travel (within 21 days) to Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone or
other countries where EVD transmission has been reported by the World Health Organization,
or close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of Ebola.
If a person meets both criteria, we ask them to come to the ER immediately. However, such patients are advised to please call the main phone number 235-8101 prior to their arrival so we can prepare for their visit and, if conditions warrant, admit them through a private entrance to avoid the public areas.
How is Ebola Spread?
According to the CDC, there are several ways Ebola can spread to other people:
- Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, including but not limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit and semen. To become infected with the virus, you would need to get some of the ill person’s bodily fluids into your mouth, nose, or eyes, or into your body via a cut or a needle stick. Doctors say that there is no evidence anyone has ever been infected via sweat.
- Touching objects contaminated with the virus, like syringes or other medical equipment
- Touching infected animals, by contact with blood or fluids or infected meat
- A cough from a sick patient could infect someone close enough to be sprayed with droplets of mucus or saliva. People dealing with anyone who may be ill are told to stand at least three feet away, preferably six. Being within three feet of a patient for a prolonged time, without wearing protective gear, is considered direct contact.
Direct contact through broken skin or mucus membranes is key, as the CDC said Ebola cannot be spread through the air (the virus doesn’t drift through the air like germs that cause measles or tuberculosis) or by water or food.
The community is reminded that it is “flu season” and there are three serious contagious illnesses affecting the population nationwide, all three with some shared symptoms: Influenza A (H1N1), Enterovirus and Ebola.
Our infection control team will be available at the Health Fair on Nov. 1 to share information, and 200 free flu shots will be administered at the health fair.
- Influenza: The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Symptoms include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness).
- Enterovirus D68: Also known as EV-D68, Enterovirus D68 is a contagious respiratory illness initially resembling the common cold; symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and a cough; however, some patients will get a severe cough, have difficulty breathing and/or develop a rash. EV-D68 can also be accompanied by a fever or wheezing.
The best way to prevent the flu is by proper hand hygiene and getting a flu vaccine each year, which are available at all three medical clinics in the community, Safeway and the public health center by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays for those who qualify*. Homer Medical Center offers special flu shot clinics every Monday for HMC patients. Call 235-8586 to schedule a time to avoid a wait.
Is South Peninsula Hospital prepared?
The Pandemic Flu committee at South Peninsula Hospital has been meeting since early October with specific regard to Ebola preparedness, and staff-wide education began this week to help all employees stay informed on prevention, identification of and treatment protocols. Dr. Larry Reynolds, our infection control physician, is conducting numerous employee trainings on preventing the spread of Ebola and other contagious diseases, and the pandemic flu committee meets regularly and attends statewide and nationwide teleconferences to stay abreast of trends and updates.